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NZ Auditor General Criticizes Public Sector, Cites Weak Accountability

New Zealand’s Auditor General John Ryan has criticized politicians for the lack of accountability in government spending. According to Ryan, the quality of reporting from government officials is poor, and many agencies are dismissive when the issue is raised with them. He pointed out that the public sector accounts for one-third of the New Zealand economy and that there is insufficient information regarding what the public is achieving with the $160 billion in government spending. Ryan also identified three major failings in the system: lack of meaningful or comprehensive initiatives, gaps in measuring changes, and poor measures for assessing the oversight and monitoring of departments.

He cited an example of significant spending with no clear outcomes—the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund established by the Ardern Labour government. The Office of the Auditor General found that the fund lacked relevant reporting regarding its nature, purpose, and impact. Ryan recommended that the law, particularly the Public Finance Act, should be reviewed and updated for 21st century New Zealand to ensure that every agency is clear on its outcomes and how they are achieving them, with metrics to point to progress against the $160 billion in government spending.

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