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Water lessons from PASAI's Secretary-General's Office

Water lessons from PASAI's Secretary-General's Office
by Sarah Markley, PASAI’s Deputy Secretary-General

It was great to see everyone at our Annual Congress last month. The role of auditors – and Auditors-General – can be a lonely one, so it is excellent to connect with peers, to discuss our challenges and hear about the innovative ways PASAI members are dealing with them.   

Sharing lessons and models is a sustainable and effective way to improve the impacts of our initiatives, which we can localise to suit the needs of our own countries. Our audits are just one of the tools we have – what we are seeking to do is build the trust and confidence of our people that our public sectors are accountable, and that our work is improving their efficiency and effectiveness.

We have learned a lot from the audit of preparedness to implement the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals undertaken by our Pacific neighbours. Hearing about the world-leading initiatives that SAIs across our region are doing in this area will inform our own activities in the future.

In this spirit, we would like to share with you some examples of reports our office has tabled recently, as we complete a suite of performance audits considering issues related to water management in New Zealand. We are constantly studying the initiatives of others, and testing and refining our own – and we are more than happy to share our knowledge.


Auditing water management: a theme-based approach

One of the challenges we are facing more and more is how to audit complex and interconnected systems beyond the financial aspects of individual entities, into the performance, outcomes, governance, and effectiveness of whole sectors. This was a factor we considered in doing a major, multi-year programme looking at water management.

We are still learning how to do this most effectively. However, our initial attempts have shown not just how well our planning pieced the puzzle together, but also the pieces we’re missing.

Some of the work we have done to explore this theme so far includes:

Managing stormwater systems in New Zealand

Flooding is New Zealand's most frequent natural hazard. Climate change and increasing urbanisation are expected to increase the risk of flooding in the future. In this audit, we looked at how three councils managed their stormwater systems to protect people and their property.

We found all councils had an incomplete understanding of their flood risk, gaps in their understanding of their networks’ current state, and were potentially underinvesting in renewing their assets.

You can see our report here https://oag.govt.nz/2018/stormwater.


Marine planning for the Hauraki Gulf:

Sarah's blog Hauraki Gulf.png

The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana is one of the busiest marine areas in New Zealand. Each year, the Gulf generates more than $2.7 billion in economic activity. Used for boating and recreational, commercial, and customary fishing, it’s important both for people living there, and the region's tourism industry.

Community stakeholders and government agencies worked together to create New Zealand's first marine spatial plan, for a healthy, productive, and sustainable future for the Gulf. Finalised in December 2016, the project was a successful example of a stakeholder-led collaborative approach, with general support from those who prepared it. However, the plan is not easy for the central and local government agencies to implement, and those involved in the project are frustrated at the lack of progress.

You can see our report here https://oag.govt.nz/2018/hauraki


Protecting marine environments

We looked at how two groups used two different processes that generated advice to Ministers for establishing marine protection, including marine reserves. We examined how inclusive, transparent, and well informed the processes were to identify lessons that could be applied to support the establishment of other marine protection measures.

Through this, we found that aspects of the implementation guidelines are too restrictive, and called for Government to consider reforming marine biodiversity protection legislation, policy, or planning to support greater collaboration, to better protect New Zealand’s unique marine biodiversity.

You can see our report here https://oag.govt.nz/2019/marine-environment


How water is used for irrigation

In 2010, the New Zealand Government regulated how big water users track their water use. We audited how these had been implemented by the six councils responsible for 90% of freshwater irrigation used in NZ.

Sarah's blog water for irrigation.png

Through this audit, we found not only that councils had mostly implemented these effectively, as required by law, but that some had gone beyond the basic requirements, using smart metering to collect information to improve how they maintained their network, scheduled water use promotions, and charged service users.

You can see our report here https://oag.govt.nz/2018/irrigation


These audits represent some of our work programme to improve trust and promote value within New Zealand’s public entities, for the good of our communities. I hope these examples are useful to you – and we are happy to discuss, support, and exchange ideas to build a prosperous and stable Pacific, with effective and fair public systems, and good governance for our organisations.

Sarah's blog september 2019 stormwater systems.png

Why Kiribati's SAI PMF assessment couldn't have come at a better time ...

SAI PMF paves the way for a stronger SAI in Kiribati

Eriati Tauma Manaima Kiribati.jpg

By Kiribati’s Auditor-General, Eriati Tauma Manaima


The SAI-PMF Assessment

Over two weeks in late August and earlu September 2019, the Kiribati Audit Office had the pleasure of hosting the PASAI Supreme Audit Institution Performance Measurement Framework (SAI PMF) assessment  team, comprising of team leader Ms Sinaroseta Palamo-Iosefo from PASAI’s Secretariat, Ms Elsie Willy and Ms Elsie Daniel both Audit Managers from the SAI-Vanuatu, and Mr Samuela Tupou an Audit Manager from SAI-Fiji.

What does the SAI-PMF mean for the Kiribati Audit Office?

The timing of this assessment could not have been better!

This SAI-PMF assessment is very important to SAI Kiribati. Not only is this the first ever comprehensive assessment for SAI-Kiribati, but as the new head of the Kiribati Audit Office, it will provide me with a much-needed stock-take and baseline as we go forward. It’s important for me to know where we stand in terms of the institution’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and threats.

In addition to this, SAI-Kiribati is now in the final year of her four year (2016-2019) strategic plan, so having the SAI-PMF assessment in the midst of reviewing our 2016-2019 strategic plan and preparing our next (2020-2023) strategic plan is brilliant. Among other things, what we will learn from this assessment will help inform SAI-Kiribati on what/which key strategic goals or areas to focus on the next four years as we continue building and strengthening our office.   

Another reason that this assessment is very important to SAI Kiribati is that when we request development assistance from our stakeholders, especially the Government and our development partners, the findings of the SAI-PMF assessment will provide evidence to support and make the case for our request for those needed assistances.    


What does the SAI-PMF mean for the Government of Kiribati and her people?

 Strengthening SAI Kiribati aligns well the Government of Kiribati’s vision, in particular the Pillar 4: Governance of the Kiribati Vision 20 (KV20) which advocates for the creation of a corruption-free public service through strengthening of institutions, like the SAI-Kiribati, within the public and private sector that foster good governance practices.

A strong and effective SAI-Kiribati plays an important role in the Government’s combat against corruption and its negative impact on the economy and the people of Kiribati. In this context, the SAI-PMF plays an essential role in building and strengthening the Kiribati Audit Office and - more importantly - the audit impact it will bring to the lives of the people of Kiribati.

How was the SAI PMF process for Kiribati?

 The whole SAI PMF assessment was a fascinating experience. Even though this is our stock-in-trade as auditors, we were all excited to learn about the value of strong interviewing techniques and the importance of finding supporting evidence to back up any comments, whether negative, positive or neutral.

As the SAI PMF assessment tool is a new concept for Kiribati’s Audit Office, the assessors spent time with the SAI’s entire team explaining its format and uses, before getting into the assessment itself. 

So what comes next?

We’re waiting on the edge of our seats for the results! But in the meantime, I have already been able to factor some of the information into our strategic plan, and it has been a privilege to be part of such a comprehensive process. I strongly recommend it for all SAIs!

For more information please contact PASAI’s Communications Advisor on jill.marshall@pasai.org


PASAI's Director of Practice Development talks SPMR with RNZ's Tim Glasgow

SInaroseta Palamo-Iosefo, PASAI’s Director of Practice Development, took time out from co-facilitating the SPMR workshop in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 26 - 30 November 2018, to talk to Tim Glasgow of Radio New Zealand.

She discussed the objectives of the workshop in improving auditing processes in the Pacific, highlighting the importance of working with the SAIs to align their operational plans with their strategic plans.

Download Sina’s interview here

Read Tim’s article (with interview) here

How many hats can a Secretary-General wear? PASAI's new SG, John Ryan, explains.

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.

John Ryan signing Tokelau agreements

John Ryan signing Tokelau agreements

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.


John with Deputy Secretary-General, Sarah Markley, and PASAI Chief Exec, Tiofilusi Tiueti

John with Deputy Secretary-General, Sarah Markley, and PASAI Chief Exec, Tiofilusi Tiueti

Launching NZ OAG’s Procurement Programme

Launching NZ OAG’s Procurement Programme