A dynamic duo

Even the world's greatest superheroes sometimes find themselves up against impossible odds. That's when they call upon a trusted friend for help.

Dymanic duos are everywhere: Batman has Robin, Frodo has Sam, and Xena has Gabrielle. The title hero generally bears heavy and inescapable responsibilities, while their partner eases their burden of care and complements their strengths.

When Jude Hutton blogged recently about our Office's mighty powers of auditing, the superhero metaphor seemed apt because the responsibilities of the Office are overseen by our very own dynamic duo: Auditor-General Lyn Provost and Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith.

The role of Deputy Auditor-General is appointed in the same way as the Auditor-General, has the same responsibilities, and is also an Officer of Parliament. At its most basic principle, the role is a safeguard against any potential misuse of the Auditor-General’s reporting powers and access to public organisations and their information. Put bluntly, the Deputy is there should the Auditor-General become bad, mad, or sad.

On 27 September 2015, Phillippa will conclude her second of two five-year terms. During that time, Phillippa has been the Auditor-General’s trusted partner and a provider of sage and reasoned counsel to the whole Office. At times she has had a more public role, leading high-profile work such as our reports about the New Zealand Police’s response to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, and the Inquiry into the Government’s decision to negotiate with SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited for an international convention centre.

I have been hugely privileged to work with Phillippa during her decade with the Office. When I think of her, the figure that comes to mind is Clara Oswald, a companion in the long-running Doctor Who series. Clara is not always noticed, but she appears throughout the Doctor’s history, doing her part to ensure the success of their missions.

Before Phillippa’s appointment, Deputy Auditors-General held a team portfolio in the Office with only a secondary focus on their duties as Deputy. Phillippa’s focus has been firmly on bringing more credence to the Deputy role. Her efforts in bringing together the "operational" side of the Office with the planning of our work programme have strengthened the Office’s prioritisation and its reporting to Parliament, increasing the impact of our work.

Phillippa has had this sort of influence on the Office before. She was the Office’s first Assistant Auditor-General, Legal, for five years in the 1990s and founded law as the second professional pillar of the Office. The intellectual jousting of lawyers and accountants in the Office is often a topic of jest, but it emphasises our commitment to looking at the public sector from multiple perspectives.

Lest you now be concerned about Lyn travelling through the public sector universe on her own, fear not – Parliament has appointed her a new companion. Greg Schollum will join Lyn as the new half of the Office’s regenerated dynamic duo.

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