The importance of Annual Reporting – so much more than a legal duty

Every year, I publish my ‘Annual Report and Accounts’ because, by law, I have to. But it’s more than that – it is a duty that I welcome.

That’s because Annual Reports make an organisation open, transparent and accountable to people, which is more important than ever when public finances are tight.

But, there’s more.

They also provide a great opportunity for staff to reflect on corporate achievements, and learning points, over a 12 month period. We not only look back at where we have come from but, in doing so, understand better why we are where we are today.

This process not only benefits those who work within an organisation, but also provides a helpful picture to the outside world of what an organisation is all about and how it is performing.

For me, and the Wales Audit Office as a whole, this latest Annual Report shows how we are continuing to maintain a strong presence in the Welsh public sector. We are valued for our authoritative and independent views on local and central government, criminal justice, health bodies – as well as our reviews on topics that cross all sectors.

If you take just a quick glance through the document, you’ll see the sheer volume and range of work which demonstrates that public audit services in Wales continue to play an active and effective role.

The report itself is in two parts: The first showcases our work, our mission, our people and future plans. The second demonstrating our funding stream and areas of expenditure in delivering audit services across Wales and supporting the public accounts committees in its scrutiny role.

We’ve tried a fresh approach to the way we present our data, pulling out our most important highlights and representing them in a clean and simple way.

And we’ve certainly been busy – as you can see from these highlights:

Video Transcript

So, where are we going next?

2014-15 offers up some unique challenges for the Welsh public sector, and with austerity measures continuing and tightening its grip, we’ll be focusing more on helping public bodies cope with, and succeed despite, the impact of funding reductions.

We’ll enhance our work on benchmarking and comparing performance, sharing audit knowledge and exchanging good practice.

We’ll also provide further assurance on the effectiveness of governance arrangements and other issues of public interest, as well as reporting more comprehensively on sustainable development and the use of Welsh language.

We plan to work more closely with other external review bodies and increase awareness of, and engagement with, our work, including through more effective use of information technology.

Everything we’ve done over the last year, and intend to do during the next, is geared around achieving our overall mission – which is to provide assurance, offer insight and promote improvements in public service delivery.

It has been an interesting and productive year for the Wales Audit Office, as this Annual Report shows. It’s actually the last one I will be presenting as Auditor General in my own right, as under the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2013 the responsibility for presenting such reports in future years goes to our new Board.

So here’s to the next 12 months and getting stuck into the important work that needs to be done.

About the author

Image of Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales.The Auditor General for Wales is Huw Vaughan Thomas. His role is independent of government. He is not a civil servant. He is appointed by the Queen.

The Auditor General is the statutory external auditor of most of the Welsh public sector. This means that he audits the accounts of county and county borough councils, police, fire and rescue authorities, national parks and community councils, as well as the Welsh Government, its sponsored and related public bodies, the Assembly Commission and National Health Service bodies.

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