Section 38B of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 gives the Auditor-General of New South Wales the mandate to undertake performance audits in NSW Government.
In developing the proposed performance audit program, we directly consulted a range of stakeholders, including NSW Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, cluster department secretaries, and the integrity agencies. We also receive suggestions from members of parliament, and from the community.
In designing our program of performance audit topics, we consider the risks and challenges facing government, and opportunities for improved public-sector accountability, governance and performance. We identify these risks and opportunities through research and consultation, and continuously scan the environment for emerging issues. The current areas of focus are:
Planning for the future
Governments play an important stewardship role. Their decisions need to consider intergenerational equity by ensuring that investment strategies are sustainable. Governments also need to consider the impact of their decisions on different parts of the community.
Meeting community expectations for key services
State and local governments exist to provide services to citizens, and citizens are playing a greater role in defining what services they want or need. Expectations about consultation, ease of access, timeliness, and customisation of services are rising. Governments face challenges to continually improve the way they plan and deliver services to meet these expectations and are increasingly moving to commissioning and partnership models with external providers. Governments also need to provide quality services for a growing and ageing population whilst working within a constrained financial environment.
The scale of investment in infrastructure
The NSW government will invest $87.2 billion* in infrastructure over the next four years. Infrastructure investment of this size creates significant opportunities and risks. Competition for resources is high and maintaining the capability to manage and deliver projects effectively is challenging. Governments also need to plan effectively to ensure infrastructure built today will meet future needs.
Managing the environment and natural resources
Governments face challenges in balancing the use of natural resources to meet diverse interests, while ensuring resources are used sustainably into the future. Governments need to supply communities with water, produce energy, and manage threats to the environment and human health. They also need to support farming, industry and economic development.
Ensuring good governance and transparency
A range of checks and balances is needed to support public confidence in government decision-making. To maintain trust, government agencies and local councils should act transparently, and in accordance with relevant legislation and policy. This is particularly important as the public sector increasingly engages with external partners to deliver services and provide a more contestable environment.
Good governance arrangements should result in improved service delivery and more effective and efficient use of resources.
Responding to digital disruption
Global trends in digital technology provide governments with opportunities to interact with citizens in more immediate and responsive ways than was previously possible. Data is used to predict future demand for services, target interventions, respond to crises, and evaluate outcomes. When doing this, governments need to maintain secure digital environments that protect citizen interests, privacy, and autonomy.
Our full audit work program for 2018–19 can be found on our website.
* Source: Budget Paper No. 2 ‘Infrastructure Statement 2018–19’.