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Putting It Together: An Explanatory Guide to New Zealand's State Sector Financial Management System

8  Reporting on Expected and Actual Performance

Reporting by agencies and by the Government of New Zealand

Introduction

This chapter outlines financial reporting requirements for departments, SOEs, Crown entities and the Government as a whole. All financial reports are prepared in accordance with GAAP and on an accrual basis. Period-end financial statements allow comparison of what the Government sought to do in fiscal terms with what it achieved. Thus in financial reporting of past results, as in budgeting for the future, the emphasis remains on measuring performance and accountability.

While New Zealand continues to emphasise the accountability of chief executives and boards for output delivery, increasing emphasis is placed on reporting other non-financial results (impacts and outcomes). The focus is on linking financial to non-financial results and demonstrating economy, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Ways to do this include comparing costs to results (eg, cost-outcome trends) and benchmarking.

Figure 5: Reporting Requirements for Agencies
Figure 5: Reporting Requirements for Agencies.

Guidance on reporting expectations is published at: www.treasury.govt.nz.

Statement of Intent (SOI)

Statements of Intent (SOIs) establish expected performance as a basis for assessing actual performance. Departmental SOIs must include a statement of future operating intentions that specifies:

  • specific impacts, outcomes or objectives sought by the agency
  • what the agency will do to achieve them (and how it will manage within a variable operating environment)
  • the main measures that will be used to report on performance, including impacts, outcomes or objectives achieved, and institutional health.

The SOI is best considered with cost, output and other information from the Information Supporting the Estimates. Historically, SOIs included detailed specifications for each class of outputs. This resulted in repetition between SOIs and the Estimates. Most output information is now published in the Information Supporting the Estimates to save unproductive paperwork. Of particular interest from a value-for-money perspective is the information on appropriations, and output performance measures and standards.

SOIs and the Information Supporting the Estimates include a statement of responsibility from the Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer of each department that the information is consistent with existing appropriations, financial authorities and the proposed appropriations set out in the Appropriation Bill.

SOIs and the Information Supporting the Estimates also contain a statement of responsibility from the relevant Ministers that they are satisfied that the information on future operating intentions contained therein is in accordance with the Public Finance Act and consistent with the policies and performance expectations of the Government.

SOIs for all departments are presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance, on behalf of all responsible Ministers, along with other budget documents.

Similar arrangements exist for Crown entities. As non-departmental information in the Information Supporting the Estimates does not cover the outputs of individual agencies, Crown entity SOIs still include budget and output information.

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