Summary of improving public reporting

  • Accountability, transparency and good governance set the foundation for public trust and confidence.
  • Good quality public reporting subjected to independent audit supports accountability, transparency, sound decision-making and stewardship of resources, for citizens.
  • One of our public reporting challenges is the users of public reporting having enough knowledge of the entity, how it needs to be reported, and how they can use the reported information in their role.

Question for you: Do you understand enough about all aspects of what your entity does and how it’s being reported? What might you need to find out more about?

  • The quality of reported information by our government and public sector entities is second to none, which is a credit to preparers, governors and auditors. However there is also a risk of complacency if we’re not looking for ways to continue to adapt and improve our reporting.
  • We are also in an era where citizens’ demand for and access to information is extremely high. Technology change has made information more accessible, easier to share, and changed both the expectations and actual speed of delivery.
  • It is imperative that entities continue to adapt and improve their public reporting to remain relevant, useful, easy to engage with and transparent to all readers, by telling their story not only from their perspective, but more importantly from their service recipient’s perspective.
  • Reporting requirements are intended to set baseline expectations to support accountability and decision-making, and improving consistency and comparability of public reporting to a general audience.

Questions for you: How do you choose to conform to your reporting requirements? How much focus do you put on telling your organisation’s story and are you looking for ways to improve your reporting?

  • There are several reporting initiatives that are gathering momentum, including:
    • Drives to reduce financial reporting disclosure. This is about reporting the right information and not just lots of information. It will mean reducing some disclosures, but may mean improving your reporting on important matters.
    • Continued improvement in service performance reporting. I note the NZ ASB has recently released an exposure draft on service performance reporting, with comments due by 29 July 2016.
    • Moves to more integrated reporting that reflect a broader story of your organisation and how you are managing it.
  • Take control of your reporting. Look for ways to improve the way you tell your story. Make it a compelling read for your audience.

Our role:

  • As your auditors, while we can’t take a lead role in changing your reporting, we will provide appropriate support, and you will see that in our future Model Financial Statements.
  • We both have a responsibility to keep the system well-oiled by making sure public reporting continues to be of the highest quality.
  • Accountability, transparency, good governance are reliant on it. And ultimately public trust and confidence demands it.