Role of the Auditor General in Public Accountability - Some Issues
This research seeks to examine the issue of lack of staff resources within the office of the Auditor-General of NSW, with reference to the Australian Audit Office (AAO).
In particular, the lack of staff resources and the implications given the changes which have occurred sine the 1970Ís, when efficiency audit responsibilities were introduced into the public accounting sector auditing, are examined.
The present responsibilities to conduct not only regularity/compliance audits but also efficiency audits, coupled with the increasing complexities within the public sector, have placed significant pressure upon the staff resources within the offices of the Auditor's-General. The intention of the research is to provide empirical evidence of these changes on the utilization of staff resources.
The Auditor General now, has responsibility for the conduct of firstly, regularity/compliance audits, which are required by mandate and, secondly, efficiency audits, which are left to the discretion of the Auditor-General. The latter are expected because these audits result in more achievements in the process of accountability via special reports to the Parliament.
With these changes many problems have been identified. These include:
- increased workloads due to the wider charter accompanied by less relative resources,
- loss of staff resources to the private sector and other government departments,
- the ambiguous relationship between the Auditor-General and the executive government. The executive government is a client of the Auditor-General's, but also determines funding levels,
- lack of public awareness of the importance of government auditing,
- little agreement with what efficiency auditing actually means, as this is not defined by the Act.
Restraints placed upon the Auditor-General by the government, by way of budgets, are not designed to restrain the independence of the Auditor-General, but do so in reality.