- Title page
- State sector reform legislation
- The Crown entity system
- About this guidance
- What are the monitoring department's functions?
- Appendix 1: Ministers' powers in relation to Crown entities
- Appendix 2: Central agencies' statutory responsibilities
- Appendix 3: Crown entities and accountability to Parliament
- Appendix 4: Glossary of public sector terms
Appendix 3: Crown entities and accountability to Parliament
Crown entities are accountable to the House of Representatives. Parliament can scrutinise Crown entities in three main ways - Parliamentary Questions, Select Committee's Review of the Estimates, and Financial Reviews.
The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) is the statutory auditor of all public entities, including Crown entities. It scrutinises Crown entity accountability, reporting and performance information on behalf of Parliament.
Parliamentary Questions 9PQs) to Ministers
Ministers must answer questions in the House about entities within their portfolio. In turn, the Minister can require Crown entities to supply that information. There are only very limited grounds (such as jeopardising the exercise of a quasi-judicial function) for an entity to refuse such a request. In some portfolios, the monitoring department coordinates with the entity on the information required by the Minister to answer the questions. In the case of some of the larger Crown entities, the entity liaises directly with the Minister's office on the preparation of answers.
Select Committee Review of the Estimates
The House of Representatives scrutinises the government's spending plans though a review monies in individual Votes in the Estimates that are published on budget day. The Select Committee's examination is supported by the staff of the Office of the Auditor-General. The Committee may draw on information in a Crown entity's SPE and SOI (if these documents are available at the same time. Crown entities may only come under scrutiny in the review of estimates process if they receive funding via appropriation. Staff from the Crown entity do not generally attend the Select Committee when it reviews the estimates10. It is ultimately up to the board chair to decide who from the entity will attend the hearing.
Financial Review looks at the government's actual expenditure and performance by examining State sector organisations' performance. This includes all Crown entities, whether funded by Vote or not. The Financial Review is undertaken by the relevant Select Committee. The key documents before the Committee are the Crown entity's SPE, SOI, and the Annual Report. The Committee generally also sends written questions to the entity for answering prior to the meeting.
For more information see www.ssc.govt.nz/officials-and-select-committees-2007 and New Zealand Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, Chapter IV Select Committees, and Chapter VII: Financial Procedures, Non Legislative Procedures, Questions to Ministers and Members.
10: When Crown entity staff do attend Select Committee, the 'no surprises' principle applies and the Minister must be keep informed in advance of the matter that might be discussed and the official attending. See SSC's Official and Select Committee Guidelines, www.ssc.govt.nz/officials-and-select-committees-2007 paragraphs 22, 23, and 32.