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Audit reporting, done with style

Reporting on the reporting

By Tiofilusi Tiueti, Chief Executive, PASAI

Tio at desk reporting article (2).jpg

A few weeks ago, we had the very great pleasure of passing on outstanding news from the Audit Office of New South Wales, when they won several awards for their 2016/2017 Annual Report at the Australasian Reports Awards in Sydney, Australia.

After winning the overall ‘Report of the Year’ category last year, the team - headed up by Margaret Crawford, Auditor-General for New South Wales - were thrilled to repeat their success by grabbing a gong in three different categories, including awards for the best online annual report and best governance reporting, and the much-coveted gold award for reporting.

We were especially thrilled for this team because we know, first-hand, how difficult it is to lift  auditing reports beyond what is basically clear and correct to what could be considered to be engaging, informative and, perhaps most importantly, completely transparent.

In fact, even though our programmes and the support we’ve rolled out for our Strategic Priority 2 on Advocacy and Engagement underpin all this, excellence in report-writing is still one of those goals we all have in PASAI that seem very obvious to note down and commit to achieving, but not so easy to implement.

At this very moment, for instance, I’m in the process of gathering the source data and information for the 2017/18 Annual Report, and the challenges are many. How do we combine input from many different SAIs, initiatives and programmes, strategic priorities and even individuals, while making it consistent, relevant and readable? How do we present information that lights us up as auditors but may not be so interesting – or even understandable – to a member of the public? How do we show how much we’ve done and where and when we’ve done it, without drowning the reader in data?

NSW team winning reporting award.jpg

The answer is … like this. Just like the NSW Audit Office has done, by combining clarity and complex information into visual, digestible chunks. By being just as open and transparent about the things we haven’t achieved as we are about the highlights and success stories. By striving continually to improve our written (and verbal!) communication in every respect, remembering at all times who exactly we’re writing for, and to what purpose. 

So this isn’t just a shout out to NSWAO in their moment of glory. It’s also a thank you – for taking the lead on a priority that we’ve started upon but maybe not taken as far as we could. We’ll be aiming to tread a similar path in the future.

 

Tiofilusi Tiueti, Chief Executive, PASAI