(based on ASX Principle 6)
Key stakeholder rights
Building effective relationships
In 2015–16, we maintained our focus on building effective relationships with our key stakeholders:
- NSW Parliament
- NSW Government agencies.
Our 2015–16 strategic focus areas ‘Product Delivery’ and ‘Operational Excellence' (see here) were key drivers in achieving effective stakeholder relations through:
- refining our Auditor-General's Reports to Parliament to better communicate our findings, their implications and our recommendations
- publishing our pricing model so clients can better understand the basis for the fees we charge
- regularly meeting with the Public Accounts Committee on the outcomes of our audits
- continuing to build knowledge of public sector reforms and government priorities, and delivering value through the right skills, resources and structure of audits.
Stronger audit client engagement
The new Auditor-General has recently completed meeting with all the Secretaries of the ten clusters that make up the NSW public sector. This is part of a stronger focus on promoting audit client engagement while still maintaining our independence.
This stronger focus on engagement will extend to parliamentarians in the coming year. We will develop better ways to meet the diverse needs of parliamentarians through the information and data we gain through our audits, and involve them more in deciding the areas our audits will focus on in the future.
The Auditor-General and Deputy Auditor-General also meet regularly with NSW Treasury and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Our targeted engagement in 2015−16 was supported by our senior management team. This team continues to meet regularly with our audit clients in order to:
- maintain effective and engaging client relationships
- issue recommendations that are accepted and acted on
- achieve positive satisfaction ratings
- be well-regarded, respected, relevant and credible.
We continued to align the themes in our financial audit volumes with the government’s 30 ‘State Priorities’ including the 12 ‘Premier Priorities’, and the government’s reform agenda. Our reports focus on four themes – financial performance and reporting, financial controls, governance and service delivery. There was a slight change from last year by adding ‘performance’ to the financial and performance reporting theme.
Broader stakeholder engagement
We consulted our stakeholders widely when developing our performance audit three-year plan and published it on our website to promote ongoing comment and feedback.
We conducted our annual survey of parliamentarians, audit clients and Audit and Risk Committee Chairs, to gain their feedback on our performance and target areas where we can improve (see Satisfaction, Effectiveness and Agency response).
Our strategic initiatives ‘Influencing for Impact’ and ‘Reporting Process’ will be key drivers for achieving effective stakeholder relationships which will ultimately deliver our vision ‘Making a difference through audit excellence’.
- revisit our key external stakeholder communication and engagement plan to strengthen our relationship with parliament and the Public Accounts Committee
- ensure a stronger focus on audit client engagement that is open and collaborative while still maintaining our independence
- develop better ways to meet the diverse needs of parliamentarians.
See here for further details on our strategic initiatives for 2016–17.
Public interest disclosures
The Auditor-General has the power to examine allegations of serious and substantial waste of public money under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994. This Act protects public officials who make such public interest disclosures in good faith. We examined seven public interest disclosures in 2015−16, none of which demonstrated serious and substantial financial waste.
The Audit Office has an internal and external public interest disclosures policy establishing a reporting system for staff and public officials to report allegations of serious and substantial waste. These policies are consistent with the NSW Ombudsman’s model policy and the requirements of the Act. The policies also outline our public interest disclosures officers.
During 2015–16, all staff members from the Governance Unit, and senior management across financial and performance audit, completed public interest disclosures training. It covered our responsibilities under the Act and the roles and responsibilities of parties involved in disclosures.
We are committed to actively seeking and using feedback to improve our performance and services. We regularly report to the Office Executive on complaints received.
In 2015–16, we received 37 complaints. Of these:
- there were no complaints made about the Audit Office
- nine complaints were about agencies we did not have the mandate to address because they were about non-government agencies or local government. In these instances, we provide appropriate alternative contacts for the complainant
- 28 complaints were about other NSW Government
The 28 complaints about other NSW Government agencies were varied in nature and across most government clusters. The most common complaints (29 per cent) were about the Transport and Infrastructure cluster, particularly on the construction of the Albert ‘Tibby Cotter’ Walkway, received when we were conducting a performance audit on the walkway.
Many of these complaints were referred to our Financial Audit and Performance Audit branches for information and/or action.
Working with the public and other watchdog agencies
We work closely with other watchdog agencies in New South Wales and audit offices in other jurisdictions to improve our services and increase the impact of our work. This includes our important work in responding to public complaints and public interest disclosures where serious and substantial waste is involved. We refer complaints involving allegations of corruption, maladministration or privacy to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the NSW Ombudsman, the Information and Privacy Commission or to other watchdog agencies.