I feel privileged to be serving the Parliament and people of Western Australia in this important role.
In 2015, I was appointed by the WA Parliament’s Joint Audit Committee to lead a review, required by legislation, of the performance of the OAG. I found this was a very well-functioning Office, with no fundamental failings, albeit with a few opportunities for improvement.
And so far, since commencing as Auditor General, my view has not changed. As demonstrated throughout this annual report, this is a great audit office, with highly skilled and passionate people delivering quality work that matters to Parliament and the community.
However, this is a time of increased expectations and some change for the OAG. Most significantly we have the introduction of local government auditing.
More broadly, we are in a period of extensive public sector reform. Machinery of Government changes have touched most agencies and with that comes increased risk around governance and controls as people, systems and responsibilities move, merge and evolve.
Beyond the sector, our profession is changing. The use of data analytics has the potential to change the way we operate in delivering efficient, effective audits that capture a broader sample than traditionally economical. There is also the ever-challenging expectation of what audit is and what it is not.
Underlying all this is the erosion of trust in public institutions. As public sector auditors, we have a unique and challenging role in holding governments to account while not recklessly eroding public trust further. Our reports must provide balance when informing decision-makers and the community of what is working well and what can be improved.
To build on the strong legacy of my predecessors and keep the best of the heart and soul of this Office, while adapting to the change around us, is my aim. To continue turning out high quality work, while building the capacity of those we audit and those who assist us, particularly in the regions, in a time of increased output will not be without its challenges.
Throughout this report we have highlighted some of the key initiatives we will be progressing throughout 2018-19 and beyond. In particular, the 4 key focus areas my Executive team and I are committed to advancing in the next 12 months are:
- local government audit reform
- monitoring the risks to accountability and transparency in a period of significant state sector reform
- increased efficiency-focused performance audits to identify potential savings
- securing the impact of the work of the OAG through better practice guidance to assist the broader public sector and improve the work of state and local government audit committees.
Since starting in this role in late May, I have met with over 100 key stakeholders, including the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates and Financial Operations Committee, many Members of Parliament, a large number of chief executive officers and board and audit committee Chairs, local governments, contract audit firms, the Australasian Council of Auditors General, professional groups and so forth. The message coming loud and clear from all these interactions is that the role of this Office is highly valued and respected.
I look forward to working across the public sector and beyond to continually learn and improve in our own operations and identify those things that we can share across the state and local government sectors. In this way we will continue to add value and continue to be respected for it.