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Working with the Office of the Auditor-General

Audit New Zealand’s work is an important part of the Auditor-General’s mandate to maintain the financial integrity of the public sector.

Karen Young and Gareth EllisAudit New Zealand’s work is an important part of the Auditor-General’s mandate to maintain the financial integrity of the public sector. A key aspect of maintaining that financial integrity is the Auditor-General’s work helping and advising Parliamentary select committees during their Estimates examinations and annual reviews of public organisations. Audit New Zealand directly supports this work.

Estimates examinations

Help with Estimate examinations takes place soon after the Budget is released, usually in May. Select committees use the process to scrutinise the proposed government spending plans for the next year to work out whether they are reasonable.

“When the Auditor-General’s Sector Managers are preparing advice on Estimates, they seek our help with a range of activities,” says Audit Director Karen Young.

“Such help includes discussing what matters should be raised, checking the accuracy of the advice, and sharing knowledge we have of the entity.”

Annual reviews

Annual reviews are slightly different. Sector Managers draw on annual audits for information when preparing a briefing for the select committee. The annual review considers an entity’s performance in the year under review and its current operations.

The Sector Manager identifies lines of enquiry to help the select committee with its review. This includes analysing the audit results, and looking at aspects such as effectiveness and efficiency, waste, and lack of financial prudence.

“Once the briefing paper has been drafted, our feedback is sought,” says Karen. “This extends to confirming that the right issues are being raised, and the general tone and balance of the briefing is right.”

The Office of the Auditor-General’s experience

Assistant Auditor-General Parliamentary Group, Gareth Ellis echoes what Karen says about the important role that Audit New Zealand’s work plays in the quality assurance process.

“We get real value from the discussions we have with auditors when considering what topics and issues to raise with a committee,” says Gareth.

“We rely on auditors to confirm the accuracy of the financial information included in the briefings. Select committee timeframes are often tight, and we appreciate the quick turnaround of Audit New Zealand’s review work.

“This sharing and testing of ideas and potential lines of enquiry between Sector Managers and Appointed Auditors is one of the ways we connect work from across the Office. It helps us to focus on the most significant issues and risks.”

Page last updated: 20 January 2016