HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 650: 23 January 2013

Time to beef up the Audit Office

It’s high time government got serious about giving the Audit Office the resources and capacity it needs to do its job in a timely fashion.
Yet another annual report of the Audit Office has highlighted this need.
While the Audit office in its annual report for 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 advises it completed 38 financial audits, 28 are related to the year ending 30 June 2009. How can other agencies like Parliaments Public Expenditure Committee do its legislated function when the information is so out of date?
On the issue of timely reporting by the Audit office, politicians themselves are part of the problem. The irregular sittings of parliament and the prolonged absence of sittings does not lend itself to timely reporting.
While the Director of Audit, Alan Parker reports he is hopeful things will improve in 2013, it’s time government ensured the Audit Office gets the help it needs.
It is also time for government to get tough on Audit Office’s recommendations.
The feeling a weary public gets is that the worst a repeat offender can get is a slap on the wrist.
For the umpteenth time, the Audit Office reports major concerns which are ongoing and recurring. Unless government gets serious about these ongoing failures to perform, we will forever be reading horror stories about mismanagement of public monies.
The major concerns reported by the Audit Office are;
1.Absence of a code of conduct for senior public officials and a leadership code for politicians. There are conflicts of interest and mismanagement.
2.Budget overspending and poor management of public funds.
3.Failure to comply with financial policies and procedures. There is a need to improve internal controls and minimize waste, abuse and misuse of government’s limited resources.
There is concern about recurring problems including;
1.Unsatisfactory levels of accountability on the usage of public funds
2.Misuse of public funds
3.Failure to follow tender projects.
The Audit Office report that factors contributing to these recurring issues include;
1.Irresponsible attitude of senior management to address unethical behavior and improper administration practices
2.lack of supervision by senior management over their employees
3.Failure to implement and enforce internal control procedures surrounding high risk areas
4.Failure to address regular anomalies through disciplinary and corrective measures.
On a bright note the Audit Office made a significant saving where “other expenses” is concerned. In 2011, other expenses came to $184,008. In 2012 the total was $129,261.
Travel costs came down from $57,506 in 2011 to $13,321 in 2012. The cost of professional services came down from $39,070 in 2011 to $26,552 in 2012.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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