Eight months into his role as Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton sets out a fresh ambition for the Wales Audit Office – to unleash its full potential as a catalyst for improvement in the public sector in Wales.
When I took up the post of Auditor General, I spent my first few months travelling the length and breadth of Wales, meeting Chief Executives across the public sector, along with many other people who have an interest in the work of the Wales Audit Office.
I wanted to hear first-hand about the big issues they’re facing and how we can help to support them in meeting those challenges.
Those conversations have shaped my thinking, and that of the Wales Audit Office Board, as we have jointly prepared the first Annual Plan of my period as Auditor General. For whilst everyone I spoke to clearly values the work we do already, they also gave me powerful feedback on where we can be even more effective.
Entirely independent of government, we exist to assure the people of Wales that public money is being managed well; to explain how public money is being used to meet people’s needs; and to inspire and empower the Welsh public sector to improve.
This Annual Plan sets the Wales Audit Office on a course to be bolder, more relevant and ambitious. To do this, I’ve set out four priority areas to enable us to increase our impact.
These are to:
- Fully exploit our unique perspective and expertise;
- Increase our visibility, influence and relevance;
- Strengthen our position as an authoritative, trusted voice, and
- Be a model organisation for the public sector in Wales and beyond.
Increasing our impact
The Wales Audit Office has unique and privileged insight into the functioning of the public service in Wales. Our Plan drives us towards making more of that position by mobilising the power of the data, insight and expertise we hold; working that knowledge base harder; and focusing on the issues that matter most.
To really hit home and make a difference we need to improve the ways we communicate the findings of our work. Emerging technology and data analytics open many exciting opportunities in this regard.
We also need to focus on delivering with pace. Not cutting corners – a strength of our work is its thoroughness and depth – but delivering our work at the point when it can have most impact in shaping debate and decision making across the public sector.
I want us to have a confident, overtly outward focus. I want us to be known for bringing trusted, independent commentary to the fore. And, I want us to provide an evidential base for decision making and public debate on the most important issues affecting public services in Wales.
Practicing what we preach
I’m confident that public sector audit in Wales is performing well, but we cannot be complacent. We must consistently practice what we preach to other parts of the public service.
The Wales Audit Office Board and I are determined that we demonstrate high standards of governance and smarter ways of working to make us more efficient, effective and adaptable to change.
This will need clear, consistent and authentic leadership, increasing the pace of our decision making, and empowering people throughout the organisation to come up with new ideas and effect positive change.
Like anyone fresh into a new job, I am hugely excited about the future. The conversations I’ve been having with leaders across the public service have left me in no doubt about the scale of the challenges we face. But I count myself incredibly fortunate to lead an organisation brimming with talented, committed people determined to make a positive difference to the way the public service meets those challenges and delivers for the people of Wales.
As our new Plan makes clear, it’s time to play our part and unleash our full potential.
You can read our Annual Plan on our website.
About the author
Adrian Crompton became Auditor General for Wales in 2018. As head of the Wales Audit Office, he oversees the annual audit of some £20 billion of taxpayers’ money and is appointed on an eight-year term.