MSD undergoing examination by Auditor-General

This weekend I received a letter from the Office of the Auditor-General, telling me that the Ministry of Social Development’s “complaints and case management processes” are being audited. 

How very interesting.

The letter invites me to take part in the audit by way of an interview.


I have a few questions, which maybe some of you can answer.

1. Is this audit standard, routine procedure? And if not, what sparked it off?

2. (And this is going to make me seem paranoid, perhaps) – It seems a tiny bit questionable to me that my contact details have been given to the A-G, and then to Colmar Brunton?

3. (Also paranoia) Was I chosen randomly? I kind of hope I wasn’t.


Oh, and yes. If they call me, I will be participating.


6 Replies to “MSD undergoing examination by Auditor-General”

  1. Warren

    My reading of that letter indicates to me that you were not chosen personally. They appear to have sent this to everyone who is on record at MSD as having made an official complaint.

    It looks like they are not going to contact everyone who has received this letter for an interview, but will choose a random sample of x number of people from the list, in line with standard research practice.
    The interesting question is: what has kicked this off? That may well be your doing 🙂

    Good on you!

  2. K

    Pretty sure they are very random. I got one and I’m not sure I’ve ever made a complaint and normally only have contact annually unless I have a change in circumstances.

  3. Rebecca

    i find it a bit off that you have to make an effort to ring if you DON’T want to be involved. So they will give your contact details to Colmar Brunton if you don’t ask them not to (sorry for double negative)? That’s not just me, right?

  4. writehandedgirl Post author

    I got an email reply from the Office of the Auditor General. Here it is.

    Kia ora Sarah,

    We received a media query from the Wireless and they linked to your blog post. I saw you had some questions, so I’d like to respond to you as the lead auditor on the Auditor-General’s performance audit of complaints handling and case management by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

    To give you some background, in our 2013/14 Annual Plan, we outlined our intention to carry out a programme of work on the theme of service delivery (how well the public sector is providing services to the public of New Zealand). When we started to scope the project in the autumn of 2013, we decided to focus on Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and MSD because they deliver public services on such a large scale. So you can see that we were doing this work in a planned way, it wasn’t triggered by an event, or request to do an investigation.

    The final project includes performance audits of complaints handling and case management by MSD and ACC. We started our complaints work in February, and have just started on case management.

    For case management, we are looking at whether MSD uses work-focused case management effectively and efficiently for people who have some work obligations since the benefit changes in July 2013. The ACC case management audit is looking at the effectiveness of case management for people except for those who come under the short term claims category.

    And to give you an idea of what we’re looking for from the complaints audit, this is what one of my colleagues wrote on our blog about this work – A quality service? What are they doing with complaints?

    You also asked about your contact details, and how the Office came to receive them. Colmar-Brunton is conducting a telephone survey and face-to-face interviews on our behalf. We asked both ACC and MSD to give us a list of people who met the criteria for our audit. Entities like MSD and ACC are required to provide information to the OAG so we can carry out our duties under the Public Audit Act.

    We only requested the minimum amount of information to enable us to contact potential interviewees. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of potential interviewees were securely protected through the transfer between MSD and ACC, Colmar-Brunton, and the OAG. Colmar-Brunton are under contract to the OAG. The company has its own ethical standards, but is required to follow the Auditor-General’s Code of Conduct too.

    The only people omitted from the lists were those who MSD and ACC had recently surveyed, to avoid those people being bothered by multiple surveys. For the face-to-face interviews we chose, completely at random, a smaller number of people to write to and invite as potential participants. This number is slightly bigger than the number of completed interviews we are looking for because some people will want to opt out. Neither MSD nor ACC know who we have written to, unless the participant chooses to make that information public.

    I hope this information is useful, you can always get back in touch with me if you want to ask any more questions about the process.

  5. Izzy

    Have to say, from what I’ve read here and on the ACC forum, the auditor-general people are going up in my estimation. They seem human, considerate, but don’t over promise. Pity they can’t go run winz


Leave a Reply to Warren Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.