Surveying our parliamentarians
Our mission is to help parliament hold NSW Government accountable for its use of public resources, and it is critical that we understand parliamentarians’ views of our performance through their direct feedback on our reports and services.
We continually strive to ensure parliamentarians value our work and that we meet their expectations. We are committed to enhancing our public sector knowledge to ensure our work is relevant and impactful. This was driven by our ‘Product Delivery’ strategic focus area in 2015-16.
In 2015, our scheduled survey of parliamentarians coincided with the March 2015 State election. Accordingly, we deferred the survey to 2016 as the participation rate would likely have been low during the caretaker and settling-in periods surrounding the election. Therefore the comparisons for the 2016 survey results are with those of the 2014 survey.
The 2016 survey of parliamentarians was conducted over three months in April, May and June. Of the 144 parliamentarians invited to complete the survey, 33 per cent responded, compared to 25 per cent in 2014.
In 2016–17, through our ‘Influencing for Impact’ strategic initiative, we will:
- build on our knowledge of public sector reforms and government priorities
- investigate ways to better engage with parliamentarians and ensure our reports are impactful, relevant and easily accessible via varied distribution channels
- strengthen government accountability through our collaborative relationship with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) (see here for further details on our relationship with the PAC)
- continue to ensure we live up to stakeholder expectations and fulfil our mandate.
Click here for further details on our 2016–17 strategic initiatives.
Overall satisfaction remains high
Parliamentarians continue to have high overall satisfaction with the Audit Office’s reports and services. Ninety per cent were satisfied in 2016, a slight drop from 94 per cent in 2014. Parliamentarians were particularly positive about:
- the Audit Office providing high quality reports and services, with 100 per cent in agreement, up from 97 per cent in 2014
- our financial audit reports and services helping to improve public sector administration, with 94 per cent agreeing, up from 91 per cent in 2014
- the Audit Office operating independently from government, 97 per cent agreeing, up from 91 per cent in 2014
- our responsiveness to parliamentarians' needs, which 100 per cent rated good or very good, up from 90 per cent in 2014.
These survey results also provide us with clear areas for improvement. While nine in ten parliamentarians provided very positive ratings on all aspects of our reports and services, it is clear we need to focus on the frequency of report usage. Only 29 per cent of parliamentarians refer to our financial audit reports often or very often. Thirty-four per cent refer to our performance reports often or very often. Our strategic planning process in 2015–16 identified this as a key area requiring focus next year to ensure parliamentarians are getting the most value from our reports as possible. See 'The year ahead' above for further details.
Survey not conducted in 2011 or 2015
Satisfaction with financial audit reports remains high
The percentage of parliamentarians who agreed our financial audit reports clearly communicated the significant issues and their implications remained high, although there was a fall to 91 per cent from 97 per cent in 2014. There was a small drop in the number who agreed that the reports were effectively presented in terms of layout and design, from 97 per cent in 2014 to 95 per cent.
There is also potential to improve how the reports help parliamentarians monitor the accountability and financial performance of the NSW public sector, as 87 per cent agreed with the proposition, compared to 97 per cent in 2014.
While still a good result, the number of parliamentarians who agreed the Audit Office performs audits with integrity declined from 100 per cent in 2014 to 94 per cent this year.
Performance audit satisfaction improved
Parliamentarians continue to rate the Auditor-General’s Reports to Parliament for performance audits highly, with results generally improved on 2014. Ninety-four per cent agreed the reports were easy to understand, consistent with 94 per cent in 2014. Similarly, 97 per cent of parliamentarians agreed the reports clearly communicated significant issues and their implications, up from 94 per cent in the previous survey. There was, however, a slight drop in agreement that the reports were effectively presented in terms of layout and design, down to 88 per cent compared with 93 per cent in 2014.
Sixty per cent of parliamentarians felt the performance audits addressed their key areas of interest to a high or very high extent, up from 52 per cent in 2014. A new question in the 2016 survey asked parliamentarians to assess whether the reports helped them monitor the performance of the area being audited, to which 94 per cent agreed or strongly agreed, an encouraging response.
Our reports and services rate above other audit offices
Since 2005, we have been comparing our parliamentarian survey results against results from other participating Australian audit offices. The Australian National Audit Office and the audit offices in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia participated in the 2016 benchmarking survey. The 2015 survey results of Tasmania’s audit office, the most recent available, are included for benchmarking purposes.
On an overall measure of satisfaction with reports and services, 90 per cent of our parliamentarians were satisfied. This is a drop from 94 per cent in 2014 (the last available comparative results) and slightly above the 89 per cent average of participating audit offices.
We rated above the average of the six audit offices on three key areas. Ninety-five per cent of parliamentarians agreed that our reports provide valuable information on public sector performance, compared to the 91 per cent average. Ninety-seven per cent agreed that our reports communicate issues clearly, well above the 90 per cent average.
Ninety-four per cent agreed that our reports help improve public sector administration, against the average of 87 per cent.