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Publications produced during 2017

This is a list of the publications produced in 2017 (the most recent items are listed first).
Central government: Results of the 2016/17 audits
December 2017: This report sets out the results of our audit of the Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the year ended 30 June 2017 (the Government's financial statements) and of carrying out the Controller function.
Getting the right information to effectively manage public assets: Lessons from local authorities
December 2017: Elected councillors are expected to make deliberate and well-informed decisions about how best to manage the assets they govern. To do so, they need relevant and reliable information about those assets. As communities and environments change, the challenges that local authorities face are becoming more complex and so are the decisions that they need to make. We looked at how five local authorities approached identifying and gathering the right information on their assets. The five local authorities understood that having high-quality asset information, including a sound understanding of the condition of those assets, gives them more certainty when planning for maintenance and replacement.
Results of the 2016 audits of tertiary education institutions
November 2017: We summarise the results of the tertiary education institution audits for the year ended 31 December 2016. We provide a brief introduction to our audit work and an update on timeliness and completion of the 2016 audits. We also report on the types of audit opinions we issued, and note the main matters we identified from our audits.
Auckland Council: Working to provide customer-centred services online
November 2017: As part of our regular reviews of Auckland Council's service performance, this report looks at how the Council is working to improve the services it provides to Aucklanders and make them easier for people to use. The Council has a programme of work called the "Customer-centric Transformation programme", which puts many of its services online. We looked at how the Council was managing the programme, and at two of the projects in that programme.
Ministry of Health: Supporting the implementation of patient portals
November 2017: This report looks at how well the Ministry of Health supported primary health organisations and general practices to implement patient portals. Patient portals are secure websites that allow people to access their personal health information and interact with their doctor. Through patient portals, people can send secure messages to their doctor, order repeat prescriptions, and, in some patient portals, view lab results and doctors' notes.
Introducing our work programme - Water management
October 2017: New Zealanders rely on water for our health, our economy, and our lifestyle. For Māori, water is an important spiritual and cultural resource that is regarded as a taonga...
Annual Report 2016/17
October 2017: Our annual report informs our stakeholders – Parliament, public entities, and New Zealanders – about our performance for the year 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. It has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Public Finance Act 1989.
MPs' guide to the Auditor-General
September 2017: This booklet is for members of Parliament (MPs), for new MPs in particular. It explains the separate roles of the Controller and the Auditor-General and outlines the kind of interaction, advice, and support that MPs can expect from the Auditor-General...
Ministry of Social Development: Using a case management approach to service delivery
August 2017: In December 2014, we published a report on how the Ministry of Social Development applied a case management approach to providing services for working-age adults. This follow-up report looks at the Ministry's progress in responding to the Auditor-General's recommendations.
Reflections from our audits: Investment and asset management
August 2017: This report brings together some reflections from our work under our work programme theme Investment and asset management. We encourage decision-makers to think about the matters raised in this report. Although aspects of asset management are done well by some public entities, there are significant issues to be addressed and challenges to meet if public assets are to continue to deliver the services that New Zealanders expect over the long term.
Managing the school property portfolio
July 2017: The school property portfolio, valued at about $14 billion at 30 June 2016, is one of the largest publicly owned portfolios of property assets. For this report, we looked at the effectiveness of the Ministry of Education’s property strategy and its role as an asset manager, including how well it plans, monitors, and reports on its performance against the strategy.
Commentary on He Tirohanga Mokopuna: 2016 Statement on the Long-Term Fiscal Position
July 2017: Long-term financial management requires an outlook that considers future uncertainties and plausible scenarios. It is about good planning, not perfect prediction. This is our view of the Treasury's long-term statement...
Annual Plan 2017/18
June 2017: Our Annual Plan describes our 2017/18 work programme and signals our future work programmes for 2018/19 and 2019/20.
The Auditor-General's strategic intentions to 2025
June 2017: The Auditor-General's strategic intentions to 2025 sets out the objectives we will focus on for the next eight years.
Border security: Using information to process passengers
June 2017: In our view, the border agencies are operating effectively. There are differences in the quality of some of the information the agencies receive. This affects how efficiently the information is used. We also looked at whether frontline staff have the systems, tools, and resources to best use and share information, and whether there is effective collaboration between the agencies. Improvements should be made in both areas to ensure that information is used in the most efficient way. New Zealand Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries also need to continue to develop their approach to workforce planning to improve their ability to efficiently deploy staff.
Managing the assets that distribute electricity
June 2017: We looked at how electricity distribution businesses were managing, maintaining, and investing in their networks to ensure that they could provide services to consumers for the long term.
Mental health: Effectiveness of the planning to discharge people from hospital
May 2017: We focused on people experiencing mental health problems acute enough that they were admitted to hospital. Although a relatively small group, their acute and often complex health problems mean that they can need a large amount of care and support from the country's health services...
Ministry of Social Development: How it deals with complaints
May 2017: This article describes the progress that has been made in responding to the Auditor-General's earlier recommendations.
Inquiry into state schools requesting payments in connection with out-of-zone places
May 2017: Our inquiry looked into the practice of five Auckland state schools that asked for payments in connection with out-of-zone enrolment applications for the 2016 and 2017 school years. We found one school asking for this kind of fee and have recommended that it cease doing so. In the schools we visited that asked for donations, we found that the donations were voluntary and that a child’s chance of gaining an out-of-zone place was not affected by their family’s decision about whether to pay the donation. However, we also found that some of the schools’ enrolment material should have been clearer that the donations were voluntary and not required for applications to be processed. We also found that the Ministry needs to improve its guidance to schools and ensure that schools are given coherent and consistent advice on payments in connection with out-of-zone places.
Immigration New Zealand: Delivering transformational change
April 2017: This report outlines how Immigration New Zealand turned a project that was at risk of failing into a business transformation programme that was delivered broadly on time and to budget. We encourage other public sector entities to consider the good management practices highlighted in Part 4 of this report when planning change and putting it in place.
Local government: Results of the 2015/16 audits
April 2017: Although the focus of this report is on the 2015/16 audits, it outlines important messages about what the Auditor-General intends to monitor throughout his term...
The Auditor-General's Auditing Standards
March 2017: The Auditor-General’s Auditing Standards are based on the standards issued by the External Reporting Board. However, those standards do not always take full account of the particular scope and nature of public sector audits...
Insights and challenges: The Auditor-General's vision for the public sector
March 2017: Letter sent on 30 March 2017 to State sector chief executives by Martin Matthews, the Controller and Auditor-General about his vision for the public sector.
Medium-term planning in government departments: Four-year plans
March 2017: For this report, we reviewed some four-year plans to see whether they appropriately set out a department’s medium-term view of where it was heading, what it would look like in the future, and how it would get there. The central agencies and departments need to do more work to achieve a consistently good standard of four-year plans throughout government. We encourage departments and the central agencies to consider our suggestions for improvements so these plans can become increasingly useful and used.
AgResearch Future Footprint Project: our targeted review of the updated business case
March 2017: As a follow-up to our 2015 letter, which included the results of our review of the AgResearch Future Footprint Project business case, we have now reviewed the updated business case. The five matters we raised in our initial review of the Future Footprint Project business case have been addressed, to varying degrees, in the updated business case. Overall, we are satisfied that the matters raised in our earlier review have been adequately addressed.
Investing in tertiary education assets
February 2017: This report considers the effectiveness of investment in tertiary education sector assets to support educational success. There is an opportunity for education agencies, tertiary education institutions, and other stakeholders to explore the measurement of the effectiveness of investments in assets, and the potential opportunities for more sector-based investment decisions. We hope that this report will start conversations in the tertiary sector about the further development and reporting of a range of cost-effectiveness measures and tools, for the sector and for individual institutions.
Inquiry into aspects of Auckland Council’s Westgate/Massey North town centre project
January 2017: We looked into specific aspects of Auckland Council’s project to develop a new town centre in Massey North. One of the concerns raised with us was about the lack of transparency, in particular being unable to access information about the project. In our view, Auckland Council could have made more information about this development available. It is important that local authorities strike the right balance between balancing commercial sensitivity, maintaining legal privilege as appropriate and being open with ratepayers and elected officials. Such openness allows public discussion and debate, and is essential to supporting public sector accountability. This exercise has highlighted once again the importance not just of making good decisions but also of being able to show that good decisions have been made.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority: Assessing its effectiveness and efficiency
January 2017: In our view, CERA did well early on in the recovery. CERA was also effective in leading a co-ordinated government response to the earthquakes. However, CERA found it challenging to maintain momentum. Its role became less clear as it took on more responsibility for delivering more projects and programmes. CERA did not engage the community well, and struggled to demonstrate its effectiveness and value for money because it had inadequate performance measures and information. It also took a long time for CERA to set up effective systems and controls. CERA’s management controls and performance information needed improvement right up to the time of its disestablishment.
Results of the 2015 tertiary education institution audits
January 2017: We summarise the results of our audits for the year ended 31 December 2015. We provide an update on timeliness, the types of audit opinions we issued, and note the main matters we identified from our audits...
Results of the 2015/16 Crown Research Institute audits
January 2017: We summarise the results of our annual audits in 2015/16, draw attention to some insights from those audits, and set out some analysis of CRIs’ financial performance in the last eight years...
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