The Chamber of Accounts of New Zealand is the supreme body of financial control and is headed by the Auditor-General and the Controller, appointed to this post only once and for no more than seven years. His powers are legally regulated by the Law on State Audit (Public Audit Act, 2001). Despite the fact that the Auditor General is an employee of the New Zealand Parliament, he is independent of the executive authorities in carrying out a check on their activities and is accountable to the Parliament for managing public funds entrusted to him.
The Government of New Zealand needs to receive confirmation that public sector organizations operate and report results in accordance with the goals set by the Government. There is also a need for an independent evaluation of regional authorities that are accountable to the public for spending their funds. Such an independent assessment of the Parliament and the public is provided by the Auditor General. The Auditor General can check any state bodies, organizations or enterprises in accordance with the request of Parliament or on their own initiative.
At the same time, the provision of such an independent evaluation is achieved through the preparation of reports on the results of the audit in accordance with the following requirements of the State Audit Law:
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1) conducting an annual financial audit of state organizations;
2) audit of control functions of authorities, including financial audit;
3) performance audit and related research;
4) preparing answers and explanations for taxpayers and members of Parliament.
Financial audit includes checking financial statements and revealing facts of abuse of power. The General Auditor also checks the performance of the performance audit, including the efficiency and economy of the use of resources, compliance with the mandate and decisions of Parliament. However, it is not within the competence of the Auditor General to verify the performance of the Reserve Bank and to choose the policies of central or local governments to achieve the objectives.
To fulfill its functions, the Accounts Chamber interacts with the Parliament, as well as professional accountants and international organizations.
The office of the Auditor General (Office of the Auditor General) and the Accounting Chamber Office (Audit New Zealand) are allotted in the Accounting Chamber.
The powers of the Office of the Auditor General include strategic audit planning, the development of common policies and standards, the appointment of auditors and monitoring the performance of their activities. The Office also conducts performance audits and provides reports and reviews received upon request to the Parliament.
The Office of the Chamber of Accounts is the "right-hand man" Office and performs an annual audit, planned by the Auditor-General. The functions of the apparatus also include the provision of a limited list of services to New Zealand authorities strictly in accordance with one of the auditor's Auditor Auditor Standards on the independence of auditors. It should be noted that Audit New Zealand is an independent organization within the Accounting Chamber and performs the functions of a state audit company.
The Chamber of Accounts employs about 260 people, providing the work of nine of its divisions. Annually about 60 private audit companies are involved in the audit.
The Accounting Chamber consists of the Auditor General, his deputy and the Assistant Auditor General for each of the activities.
There are six working groups in the Office of the Auditor General, each headed by an assistant: 1) an audit and accounting group; 2) a group on legislation; 3) the audit team of regional authorities; 4) a parliamentary group; 5) the efficiency audit team; 6) research and development group.
In particular, the efficiency audit team is responsible for conducting direct inspections in accordance with Art. 16 of the Law on State Audit. The law contains provisions that the Accounts Chamber has the right:
- to verify the effectiveness of the public authorities of New Zealand;
- to monitor whether the authorities fulfill the obligations imposed on them by law;
- to identify the mistakes made by the authorities, which resulted in misuse of budgetary funds;
- identify any shortcomings that indicate the unreasonable use of budgetary funds.
The Performance Audit Group annually releases about 15 reports based on the results of the audits.
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According to the New Zealand legislation, the Auditor General is to provide an annual financial audit of about 4,000 public authorities and organizations. To fulfill this requirement, about 80% of the budget of the Accounting Chamber is spent.
In 2002-2003, The work of the Chamber of Accounts was implemented & quot; resource selection model for audit & quot; (audit resourcing model), which provides for an annual selection of auditors to perform inspections. The selection process takes place on an equal footing from a whole list of audit companies, including Audit New Zealand, the four most preferred audit firms, medium and small representatives of this business. To conduct an audit of state organizations whose activities are of a commercial nature, the Accounting Chamber organizes a tender.
The Chamber of Accounts assesses the effectiveness of the work of the authorities, including the central government departments, regional authorities, schools, hospitals and national security services.
The annual performance audit program is part of the annual plan published by the Annual Plan.
The final result of the performance audit is a report submitted to the Parliament, which contains information on the positive results, as well as the difficulties encountered and the proposed solutions. The advantage for the audited body is that the positive conclusion of the Accounting Chamber is first of all a guarantee of the legality of the transactions conducted on the accounts, and based on the results of the audit the authority receives recommendations on improving the efficiency of the activities developed by the Accounting Chamber. All reports on performance audits are available to citizens on the website of the Court of Account of New Zealand (URL: oag.govt.nz/reports/by-type/performance-audits).
However, the authority of the Auditor General does not include assessing the political decisions taken by the government or regional authorities. The Court of Accounts can only verify whether the implementation of this decision has been carried out in an appropriate manner.
Usually, two employees from the audit working group, who have extensive knowledge and experience in different areas of activity, conduct the performance audit. Each effectiveness check lasts up to 12 months, depending on the complexity of the evaluation object.
During the performance audit, the following steps are highlighted:
1) The definition of audit topics for scoping occurs during the planning process. Before starting an audit, the employees of the Chamber of Accounts are contacted with the inspected object and discuss the inspection time;
2) Planning of planning, in the process of which the criteria of the expected effectiveness of the activity of the inspected object are developed, in comparison with which the achieved effectiveness will be evaluated. At the same time, the employees of the Audit Chamber necessarily hold explanations for the audited organization according to the criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of its activities;
3) gathering of evidence (fieldwork), in the course of which the auditors collect the documents necessary to determine the extent to which the values of the expected performance criteria were achieved. At the same time, the methodology includes interviews with staff and shareholders, checking documentation and files, more detailed reviews of some issues and methods of statistical analysis. The information collected is confidential and can not be claimed in accordance with the Information Information Act (1982);
4) preparation of a summary of findings. After a thorough analysis of the collected evidence, general conclusions are drawn up on the results of the audit, which are submitted to the audited organization for the purpose of preparing a response or are discussed orally. Thus, the audited party is given a chance to comment on the performance audit results;
5) Draft report preparation. After the draft report has been prepared, its data are carefully checked and corrected according to the actual data. The organ under review is given two weeks to prepare comments on the reliability of the data received. However, reaching agreement on the data presented in the report is not the goal of the work of the working group;
6) Public release of the report occurs simultaneously with its transfer to the Parliament. The Chamber of Accounts then initiates a briefing with interested ministries and committees on the issues contained in the report.
The performance audit is carried out selectively and is planned in advance. The list of prospective checks is published annually. As a rule, problematic or potentially problem areas are checked. Methods and approaches are different depending on the objectives and the area that is being tested, a single system of performance indicators is not used. As a rule, the auditor closely interacts with the manager and employees of the audited organization (conducts surveys and interviews, reviews internal reports and other documents). Widely used are additional information - surveys of consumers of services, legislators and related ministries, public consultation, expert involvement, international experience (more often the UK experience), previous studies, case studies.
Based on the audit results, a report is submitted to the Parliament (and published) containing the identified problems, as well as recommendations for their elimination. Sometimes a separate document containing recommendations and analysis of successful experience is published.
Parliamentary control over the implementation of the state budget and the performance of departments is also carried out by the relevant committees in the course of financial reviews. Departments fill out a standard questionnaire showing how the results of their activities contribute to the achievement of general economic goals.
It is very important for the Government of New Zealand that the Office of the Auditor General provides a guarantee that the efficiency audit procedure is aimed at achieving social and economic efficiency and is conducted in accordance with the National Audit Standards.
National audit standards include the Ethical and Professional Standards of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accounts (NZICA) and the standards approved by the Auditor General. At the same time, Auditor-General's auditing standards set minimum requirements for audit procedures. According to Art. 23 of the Law on State Audit, these standards must be issued at least once every three years, in the form of a report and transmitted to the Parliament.
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