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Improving the public sector

Improving the public sector

Public sector auditing and assurance is more complex and challenging than ever before.

The public sector is expected to do more for less. There is a trend for government departments, district health boards, and local authorities to become larger through mergers. A mixed ownership model is being brought to some public assets. More public services are being provided in partnership with the private sector.

Change creates opportunity for service innovation, priority reallocation, and cost reduction. But it also brings risk. In large entities, accountabilities and responsibilities get blurred. And quality and response times can get lost in the drive for efficiency. Unless care is taken, the end result is that the public loses confidence in the changes entities make.

Audit New Zealand is actively helping public entities as they work to build better public services. And we are changing how we work too – in direct response to the challenges that public entities face.

Our Specialist Audit and Assurance Service team is encouraging public entities to review assurance processes early – especially for major new initiatives. Our auditors are helping public entities to better integrate and report their financial and non-financial information. This allows public entities to better tell the stories about how the changes they’ve made or are making are, or will, make a difference.

In our view, improving quality assurance and presenting financial and non-financial information openly and effectively builds trust in public sector change.

We are continuing to share our findings with public entities, focusing on sectors. An example is our work with the Tertiary Education Commission and its performance information hub, allowing all public entities in the tertiary sector to act quickly on the key recommendations we make for that sector.

Public sector accounting standards are also changing, and there is a new Financial Markets Authority (FMA) audit regime. Our senior staff will be fully equipped to advise public entities on the changing standards and new regime well before they come into force.

Page last updated: 16 October 2013

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