Supreme audit institutions and public value: Demonstrating relevance

  • Carolyn J. Cordery, David Hay
  • Financial Accountability and Management, December 2018, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/faam.12185

Developing a way of thinking about public value in Supreme Audit Institutions

What is it about?

This paper analyses literature on the value that Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) deliver. These are analysed within the Moore (1995, 2003) public value framework and a ‘strategic triangle’ that (i) strategically develops public value, (ii) ensures legitimacy and support, and (iii) builds from operating capacity. It then undertakes a comparative international study, to analyse how SAIs report on the public value they deliver. It finds that SAIs’ reporting prioritises work done to increase public sector efficiency and effectiveness, rather than critiquing government policy. We also find that, generally, SAIs fail to discuss any negative consequences of their work. Overall, we encourage SAIs to develop new ways to demonstrate their ongoing relevance.

Why is it important?

It is widely believed that public audit is important, but as most nations have public sector audit, there has been few studies that consider their relevance. Rather than taking public value as a given, we develop a framework to check against and to show how SAIs can demonstrate the public value they deliver.


Professor Carolyn J Cordery
Aston University

This is the second of three papers that David Hay and I developed from a research project within NZ's Supreme Audit Institution (the New Zealand Office of the Auditor-General). We provide practical examples of value that SAIs report. SAIs need to make opportunities to communicate with the public more generally to show the value they add.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Carolyn J Cordery