Audit plays a critical role in the public sector now more than ever
Auditor General outlines priorities for the next 12 months
The Auditor General has today presented the Audit Wales Annual Plan for 2021-22. As the public sector in Wales continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, this document outlines our priorities for the next 12 months.
Audit plays a vital role in providing the public, politicians, decision-makers and influencers with the information and assurance they need about how well public money is being spent. This is even more important in these extraordinary times as we see huge pressures on public services, high levels of risk and uncertainty, and substantial increases in public expenditure. Our audit work programme will reflect this.
We have previously identified four broad ambitions which describe the path we are taking towards reaching our full potential as a driver of change and improvement at the heart of public services. In this Plan, we have summarised the main factors that will influence the way we fulfil these ambitions and deliver our programmes of work over the next year. These include the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications of Brexit, the declared climate emergency, socio-economic challenges, and increased digitisation of services.
In response, we have identified several areas of focus for our audit work and our running of the business in 2021-22. Alongside our key performance indicators, progress made in these areas will be closely monitored and scrutinised by the Board and Executive Leadership Team throughout the year.
From our engagement throughout the last year, we have seen how public sector bodies have risen to the challenge of the pandemic. Colleagues across the public service have gone above and beyond their normal duties to keep services going and to keep the people of Wales safe. On behalf of Audit Wales, we would like to record our continued thanks and admiration for this incredible effort and commitment.
Though the roll-out of the vaccination programme gives us hope of some light at the end of the tunnel, we are conscious that current pressures are extreme and frontline services must be prioritised. The approach of Audit Wales in 2021-22 remains, therefore, to deliver our statutory responsibilities in ways which are sensitive to the pressures that services are under. We will keep a degree of flexibility within our 2021-22 programmes of work to enable this and to allow us to respond to emerging developments.
Our own resources have been stretched over the last 12 months, as staff have worked entirely remotely while juggling the impact of the pandemic and the demands of caring, home-schooling, and other responsibilities. We are indebted to all Audit Wales staff for their professionalism, hard work and commitment to public service through these challenging times.
In 2021-22, we will keep our delivery approaches and methodologies under review. In shaping a new way of working for the future, we will build on the adaptations outlined in our recent Interim Report, so as to capture and keep some of the positive changes we have seen during the pandemic.
Notes to Editors:
- This Annual Plan covers the period 1 April 2021 to the 31 March 2022. It includes additional information on our longer-term ambitions and key performance indicators. It’s jointly prepared by the Auditor General for Wales and the Chair of the Wales Audit Office in accordance with the requirements of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013.
- Our Annual Plan outlines our priorities and proposed work programmes for the next 12 months, both for our audit work and our running of the business.
- Our four ambitions, as first set out in our 2019-20 Annual Plan, are to:
- Fully exploit our unique perspective, expertise and depth of insight;
- Strengthen our position as an authoritative, trusted and independent voice;
- Increase our visibility, influence and relevance; and
- Be a model organisation for the public sector in Wales and beyond.
- The Auditor General is the independent statutory external auditor of the devolved Welsh public sector. He is responsible for the annual audit of the majority of the public money spent in Wales, including the £21 billion of funds that are voted on annually by the Welsh Parliament. Elements of this funding are passed by the Welsh Government to the NHS in Wales (over £8 billion) and to local government (over £4 billion).
- The audit independence of the Auditor General is of paramount importance. He is appointed by the Queen, and his audit work is not subject to direction or control by the Welsh Parliament or government.
- The Wales Audit Office is a corporate body consisting of a nine-member statutory Board which employs staff and provides other resources to the Auditor General, who is also the Board’s Chief Executive and Accounting Officer. The Board monitors and advises the Auditor General, regarding the exercise of his functions.
- Audit Wales is the umbrella name for the Auditor General for Wales and the Wales Audit Office. Audit Wales is a registered trademark, but it is not a legal entity in itself.