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Auditor-General to study chief digital officer's role in procurement

Use of panels and all-of-government arrangements will be areas of focus for the Auditor-General
  • Rob O'Neill (New Zealand Reseller News)
  • 27 September, 2018 13:55
Auditor-General John Ryan

Auditor-General John Ryan

The role of the government chief digital officer will be one area of focus in the Auditor-General's review of government procurement, a paper released today reveals.

The paper charts Auditor-General John Ryan's proposed approach to a three-year study of government procurement, saying it is important New Zealanders get the best possible outcomes from the significant public spending on goods and services.

"New Zealanders expect that public resources, including taxes and rates, will be managed effectively and efficiently, competently, and with integrity," Ryan said.

The document is supposed to be a “conversation starter” for discussions with public organisations, people involved in procurement, and Parliament about where to add value.

"In our view, the public sector still has work to do to improve procurement practices," Ryan said. "Despite considerable focus on it, and despite improvements that have been made, we continue to see instances of procurement practice that give us cause for concern."

The Auditor-General wants to help improve how the public sector does procurement and to ensure New Zealanders are getting the benefits from public spending.

"This will lead to stronger public accountability for the use of public funds and improved awareness about the implications of poor procurement," Ryan said.

"We also want to help maintain the public sector’s reputation for honesty and integrity. Poor procurement practices can erode trust and confidence in the public sector."

Public sector procurement also has to work well for those who supply the goods and services, the Auditor-General said.

"There need to be robust processes that support appropriate accountability for public expenditure without hindering innovation."

That requires a competitive market that does not impose unnecessary costs on suppliers.

The study will look specifically at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s leadership role in public sector procurement as well as the government chief digital officer’s leadership role in information and communications technology procurement.

Also up for scrutiny are procurement approaches that intend to achieve increased efficiency and innovation, including the use of all-of-government contracts, panels of suppliers, and public private partnerships.

"We are interested in how risks are managed where there is a dependence on suppliers of critical services," Ryan said.