This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Official Information request 'requests for inquiry or complaints or other allegations made against the Earthquake Commission'.

Alongside the Auditor-General’s primary function, 
management and organisational issues. The 
of carrying out annual audits for about 4000 public 
Auditor-General’s office is not an avenue for 
entities in the public sector, we are able to inquire in 
resolving individual complaints or concerns about 
detail into issues of concern that are raised with us.
how a public entity has handled a particular matter. 
The Auditor-General is also an “appropriate 
We examine each request to decide the most 
authority” under the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. 
appropriate way to proceed. We identify whether 
This means that public sector employees who are 
the matters raised suggest:
concerned that there may be serious wrongdoing 
in their organisation are protected if they disclose 
•  financial impropriety, 
information to us under the Act’s procedures. 
•  problems with the organisation’s overall 
We deal with protected disclosures as part of our 
governance or management, or 
general inquiries work.
•  other systemic or significant concerns that 
may be important for the organisation, the 
This inquiries function is discretionary. We receive 
sector it operates in, or the general public. 
many requests for inquiries each year, and choose 
carefully which issues warrant investigation by 
Other factors we consider include how serious 
this office. No-one can make the Auditor-General 
the issues are, whether we have the resources 
investigate a matter. We make these decisions 
and technical skills to consider them properly, 
and whether the issues may be better addressed 
through other avenues.
Inquiries can be large or small, cover a wide range 
of issues, and take weeks or months to complete. 
Larger inquiries can involve significant amounts of 
The limits of our role 
staff time and other resources, for both our office 
In both audits and inquiries, our role is to investigate 
and the entity we are investigating.
and to report our findings and our opinion. Our 
We carry out inquiries on our own initiative or on 
scrutiny and reporting helps hold public entities to 
request from a member of the public, an employee, 
account, and we can refer issues to other agencies 
a member of Parliament, or another organisation. 
for action. However, we do not have direct power to 
However, we are not a general complaints agency.
change what an entity is doing.
When people ask us to inquire into an issue, it is 
The types of issues we look at 
important that they understand the limits of our 
role. For example:
Our role as auditors of public entities affects how 
we select matters for inquiries, in two ways.
We cannot intervene in decisions that public entities 
are making, or the decision-making processes they 
First, we can only look at issues relating to public 
are following. 
entities. We have no role in relation to the activities 
of private individuals or private sector organisations. 
•  We cannot injunct or stop activities or 
If a private organisation is receiving funding from a 
public entity, we can look at how the public entity is 
•  We cannot make a binding judgement about 
managing the funding relationship but not at what 
the legality of actions. 
the private organisation is doing.
•  We cannot order redress or other remedies, or 
Second, our focus is on the way public entities use 
overturn decisions. 
their resources, including financial, governance, 
•  We cannot direct a public entity to act on our 
findings or recommendations.

We choose carefully which issues warrant investigation by this office.
It is also not appropriate for us to take on the role 
Step 3 – Write to us 
of the entity or attempt to function as a court. 
If you are not satisfied with the public entity’s 
response and want to raise the matter with us, 
•  We will not substitute our views for those 
please provide your request to us in writing. Give us 
of elected or appointed decision-makers on 
as much information as you can, including:
matters that are their responsibility (such as 
•  a factual description of the matter, and what 
policy decisions by local authorities). 
your specific concerns are, 
•  We cannot operate effectively as an appeal 
•  what steps you have taken to raise your 
body for individual decisions that may be 
concerns or resolve these issues, including 
who you have been in contact with and the 
•  We cannot take on the judicial review 
outcome of this, 
function of the courts, by acting as a forum 
•  why you think the matter should be of 
for detailed assessment of the legality of 
concern to the Auditor-General, and 
decision-making processes. 
•  copies of any relevant correspondence or 
documents that may be helpful to us in 
How to ask for an inquiry 
understanding and considering the issues. 
To ask us to consider an inquiry, please use the 
You must tell us if you are an employee of an 
following process:
organisation and are writing to us under the 
Protected Disclosures Act 2000. You should also 
Step 1 – Raise the matter with the entity
ensure that you have followed your organisation’s 
If you are concerned about a public entity’s use of 
internal procedures first. If you have not, that 
its resources, first take your concern to the relevant 
can affect whether the Act will protect your 
public entity and seek its response. We will usually 
inquire into a matter only after there has been an 
Send the information to:
attempt to raise the matter with the public entity 
  The Controller and Auditor-General  
Office of the Auditor-General  
PO Box 3928  
Step 2 – Are we the best authority to 
consider your concerns?
Or you can email the information to  
Before writing to us, consider if we are best suited 
[Office of the Controller and Auditor-General request email].
to look into your concerns. There may be another 
authority that is more appropriate or better able to 
help you. You might also want to contact any central 
government department that has responsibility 
for the area (such as the Ministry of Education if 
Given the confidential nature of most of our 
the matter involves a school or a tertiary education 
work, the Official Information Act 1982 does not 
apply to the Auditor-General

We do not provide public updates on 
Our inquiry process 
progress or the substance of what we are doing, 
We will acknowledge that we have received your 
because this can hamper our work.
request within a few days.
If your concern is not suitable for an Auditor-
General’s inquiry, then we will reply to let you know 
that we cannot look at it. Where we can, we will 
When an employee raises a matter with us under 
redirect you to another agency. We aim to let you 
the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, we are obliged 
know within 30 days whether it is an issue we can 
to protect that person’s identity.
As a matter of policy, we apply the same approach 
We classify the matters we can look at into three 
to all the requests we receive. We think it is 
categories – routine, significant, and major – 
important that people should be able to ask us to 
depending on how serious the issues are and how 
look at whether a public entity is using its resources 
much work is involved.
properly without fear or reprisal.
There are times when it is not possible to investigate 
Routine inquiries 
a matter properly without it becoming obvious who 
A routine inquiry involves straightforward issues and 
has raised it. In such cases we will check with the 
can often be carried out by a review of documents 
correspondent before we proceed.
or through correspondence and discussion with the 
Given the confidential nature of most of our work, 
entity. Often, we will carry out enough preliminary 
the Official Information Act 1982 does not apply to 
work to understand the problem and gain assurance 
the Auditor-General. Instead, the Public Audit Act 
that the issues are or will be addressed by those 
2001 gives us a discretion on what information we 
directly responsible.
will publicly release.
A routine inquiry will usually not result in 
a published report. We always advise the 
Our policy on public and media comment 
correspondent of our conclusions and the reasons 
on current inquiries 
for them, and in some cases we advise the public 
If we receive a media query, we will confirm that we 
entity of the matter.
have received a request and that we are looking into 
We aim to complete routine matters within 3 
an issue. For major inquiries, we will usually release 
public terms of reference.
However, we carry out inquiries in private. We do not 
Significant and major inquiries 
provide public updates on progress or the substance 
Significant and major inquiries involve more 
of what we are doing, because this can hamper our 
complex issues that require in-depth work. We 
usually review the public entity’s files and may 
In each case, we decide what information we should 
formally interview people. We ensure that we 
release at the end of an inquiry about our findings 
comply with our natural justice obligations, by 
and conclusions. For significant inquiries, we often 
giving those affected an opportunity to comment 
publish our findings on our website. For major 
before we finalise our views.
inquiries, we will usually publish a report and table 
We will usually report the results publicly, as well as 
it in Parliament.
advising the correspondent of our conclusions.
We aim to complete most significant inquiries 
within 6 months and major inquiries within a year.

Exploring other avenues 
•  Privacy Commissioner: complaints about 
interferences with privacy under the Privacy 
Other authorities may be able to help you:
Act 1993, such as refusal of access to personal 
•  State Services Commission: concerns 
about the performance of public service 
•  Human Rights Commission: complaints about 
departments, and integrity and conduct in the 
discrimination on grounds such as age, ethnic 
public service and the wider State services. 
origin, and disability. 
•  Office of the Ombudsmen: 
•  Health and Disability Commissioner: 
– complaints under the Ombudsmen Act 
complaints of breaches of the Code of Health 
1975 about “matters of administration”, 
and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, 
such as an allegation of unfair treatment 
concerning both publicly owned and private 
by a public sector organisation or 
other matter that affects an individual 
•  Parliamentary Commissioner for the 
personally, and 
Environment: concerns that the environment 
– reviews of decisions under the Official 
may be, or has been, adversely affected. 
Information Act 1982 or Local Government 
•  Commerce Commission: anti-competitive 
Official Information and Meetings Act 
behaviour by businesses, and false or 
1987, such as a request for access to 
misleading trading practices. 
official information that has been declined. 
Charities Commission: conduct in breach of the 
•  New Zealand Police or Serious Fraud Office: 
Charities Act or serious wrongdoing in connection 
fraud, which can include matters of criminal 
with a registered charity. 
misconduct involving a public office holder, 
and related criminal proceedings. 
Securities Commission: securities markets activities, 
matters that may affect the interests of investors, 
and possible breaches of securities law.