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Our strategic intentions

The Auditor-General's strategic intentions to 2025.

We must continue to provide assurance about public entities' performance and accountability. Because of our unique view of the whole public sector, and our independence, we are also setting ourselves a bold challenge – our greatest imaginable challenge – to use our position to influence policy-makers and decision-makers so that:

By 2025, the public sector is operating and accountable in ways that will meet the needs of New Zealanders in the second quarter of the 21st century.

How our strategic intentions will focus our work

Our strategic intentions will guide our work until 2025, and be supported by two more detailed and internal strategic plans. The first strategic plan will cover from 2018 to 2021, and the second will cover from 2022 to 2025.

In the table below, we set out an overview of our purpose, our vision, our greatest imaginable challenge, and the strategic objectives that we will use to focus our work.

Figure 2
Overview of our purpose, vision, greatest imaginable challenge, and strategic objectives

Our purpose Give Parliament and New Zealanders an independent view about public sector performance and accountability.
Our vision A high-performing and trusted public sector.
Our greatest imaginable challenge By 2025, the public sector is operating and accountable in ways that will meet the needs of New Zealanders in the second quarter of the 21st century.
Our strategic objectives Strengthening the public sector: We want to use our influence to improve the performance of public entities and the public management system in which they operate.
Improving New Zealanders' trust and confidence: We want to ensure that accountability arrangements work to improve New Zealanders' trust and confidence in the public sector.
Leading by example: We want to be a role model for public sector performance and accountability.

In the pages that follow, we describe each strategic objective, explain what we intend to achieve, and set out how we will do this.

Strengthening the public sector

We want to use our influence to improve the performance of public entities and the public management system in which they operate.

We will continue to carry out our core business using our independent perspective, auditing entities, reporting, and providing advice and support to Parliament. We also intend to carry out smarter and more influential auditing by:

  • focusing more of our work on issues that are important to New Zealanders;
  • reporting more on cross-agency performance and outcomes rather than just focusing on individual public entities;
  • providing more timely insight and assurance;
  • better equipping ourselves to share good practice more actively; and
  • raising public awareness about our role, so more New Zealanders understand that there is an independent agency with a constitutional role to act as a "check and balance" on how public resources are used.

For the wider public management system, we want to make better use of our oversight of the entire public sector so that we can:

  • take a more active "thought leadership" role; and
  • collaborate with others, particularly other integrity and accountability agencies, to encourage discussion and debate about modernising New Zealand's accountability arrangements.

How will we demonstrate our progress?

Given our role as an influencer, we have work to do to find meaningful ways to measure whether the public sector is improving and the part we play in that improvement. We will know we are making progress towards achieving a stronger public sector when:

  • we see tangible improvements in the reporting of public sector performance;
  • we see entities more consistently sharing good practice and collaborating with each other to improve outcomes for New Zealanders; and
  • our recommendations help public entities to continuously improve.

We will also assess Parliament and public entities' confidence in our work to strengthen the public sector. We will know that our work, and that of others, is having the desired effect by tracking a range of measures and gathering feedback from our main stakeholders (including Parliament) and public entities.

The detailed measures and targets we currently use are set out in each year's Budget's Estimates documentation for Vote Audit. We plan to review these measures and targets to see whether they can be improved.

Improving New Zealanders' trust and confidence

We want to ensure that accountability arrangements work to improve New Zealanders' trust and confidence in the public sector.

Trust and confidence in government is at the heart of every democracy. Around the world, people are increasingly questioning the actions of their institutions and elected representatives. We want New Zealanders to receive the sorts of information they need to have trust and confidence in the organisations that are there to serve them. This means encouraging and expecting public entities to be open and transparent, providing reliable, meaningful, and timely information in an accessible way.

Also, the information we hold provides an evidential base for our work. Our challenge is finding ways to share that information in ways that work for New Zealanders – empowering people as well as elected members to ask pertinent questions and hold the public sector to account.

We intend to do more to listen so that our work focuses on the matters that are significant to New Zealanders. We will also:

  • encourage public entities to provide relevant, meaningful, and timely information in more accessible ways to their service users and communities;
  • report and share information in ways that help communities to understand the issues they face and hold their public entities and decision-makers to account; and
  • evolve the ways, means, and speed with which we reach and inform New Zealanders.

Through our communication, we will continue to encourage discussions about what we find, and we intend to better equip our staff to do this. We will talk more about the work we do and the independent perspective that we can bring. We also want to increase the range of ways in which we report and share information and insight.

How will we demonstrate our progress?

We will seek wider public input as we plan our annual work programmes, so that our work continues to be relevant and timely. We will know that our work, and that of others, is having the desired effect by tracking a range of measures.

We currently have specific measures and performance targets for others' views of our work. These can be found in the Budget's Estimates documentation for Vote Audit. We plan to review these measures and targets to see whether they can be improved.

Leading by example

We want to be a role model for public sector performance and accountability.

We are an internationally respected audit institution, and we aspire to be even better. We want to lead by example as individuals and as an organisation. This includes trying new ways of sharing our knowledge and our data, creating accountability documents that show the way for other agencies, and managing our business in ways that show we model the expectations that we set for others.

We will focus on building our capability, and fostering a healthy workplace culture of trust and respect. We will adapt to change in ways that are productive, useful, and cost-effective.

We will build on the systems we already have to manage our work, maintaining our independence and strong ethical base and addressing the risks to our work. We will continue to lead and participate in discussions to ensure that we remain an influencer.

We intend to do more to:

  • strengthen the leadership of the Office and the auditors working on our behalf;
  • develop our organisation – its people and its processes;
  • work more collaboratively with each other (in all parts of the Office, including with audit service providers, getting the most from our knowledge, information, and methods);
  • provide the sorts of reports that people need from us; and
  • assess our own practices against the expectations we have of others.

How will we demonstrate our progress?

We will know we are making progress towards being a role model when we see that:

  • our own accountability reports and other documents are received well and widely used by others;
  • we use feedback and reviews of our performance to continually improve what we do;
  • we have the capability needed to do our best work; and
  • our engagement and organisational culture are among the highest in the public sector.

We will benchmark ourselves, look for opportunities to enhance our main activities and improve our effectiveness and efficiency, and seek feedback from our international colleagues.

Regular staff, client, and stakeholder surveys and periodic peer reviews will help us to track our progress towards this objective.

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