Wearing many hats,
by John Ryan, PASAI’s Secretary-General
E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangarangatanga maha o te motu, tēnā koutou.
Thank you for the warm welcome you have given me as your Secretary-General. It’s a privilege for me to hold this position – to don this particular hat - and I look forward to serving all the members of PASAI in this role.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get to PASAI’s Congress this year. This was a great disappointment for me but there are times when the many hats we wear include life outside work, and on occasions our family commitments must come first.
In fact, in our work we must remain focused on what we, our families, our friends and communities should reasonably expect, especially in terms of understanding how well the public sector is delivering for us.
I’m rapidly finding that wearing several hats simultaneously is an essential part of what we do. As well as any titles we may hold, we’re both auditors and citizens. We’re outside and inside the systems we work for. We hold institutions to account, and tell them how they can improve. As auditors, we naturally focus on the institutions’ last financial year, but influencing how the public financial management system works is also absolutely critical.
As members of PASAI, we have the unique perspective and independent voice to influence positive changes needed for the public sectors of our countries. We are able to contribute to the effective operation of organisations and to their accountability to our people – today and for the future.
The SAIs of our Pacific nations face relative isolation and constant constraints on our capability and capacity, yet we can always do more. Our countries are made up of many small communities with diverse economic, cultural, social and environmental needs. How well we monitor the organisations that deliver the essential services we rely on has enormous impact on the trust and confidence our people will have in how we are governed.
Given our unique role, we need to be recognised as champions for public sector performance and accountability for the 21st century. We need to keep our organisations relevant, strongly connected and active, and lead with integrity and independence. We have many challenges ahead in re-imagining our public accountability system for the significantly different world that’s emerging.
Wearing my hat as the Auditor-General of Tokelau (and of Niue), for example, I recently met with Government of Tokelau and key officials. Tokelau’s development strategy sets good governance as its first strategic priority. I was impressed by the commitment of Tokelau’s leaders to take the necessary steps to ensure accountability systems are strengthened as a foundation for future development.
For each of us in all of the corners of the Pacific our challenges present themselves in different ways - but our goals are the same. PASAI has a well-defined and outcomes-focused strategy to assist each of us to reach those goals. I look forward to working closely with you all to deliver on the key focus areas of the PASAI Strategic Plan.