New public management and the rise of public sector performance audit: evidence from the Australian case

Parker, L. D. , Jacobs, K. and Schmitz, J. (2019) New public management and the rise of public sector performance audit: evidence from the Australian case. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 32(1), pp. 280-306. (doi:10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2964)

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Abstract

Purpose: In the context of global new public management reform trends and the associated phenomenon of performance auditing (PA), the purpose of this paper is to explore the rise of performance audit in Australia and examines its focus across audit jurisdictions and the role key stakeholders play in driving its practice. Design/methodology/approach: The study adopts a multi-jurisdictional analysis of PA in Australia to explore its scale and focus, drawing on the theoretical tools of Goffman. Documentary analysis and interview methods are employed. Findings: Performance audit growth has continued but not always consistently over time and across audit jurisdictions. Despite auditor discourse concerning backstage performance audit intentions being strongly focussed on evaluating programme outcomes, published front stage reports retain a strong control focus. While this appears to reflect Auditors-General (AGs) reluctance to critique government policy, nonetheless there are signs of direct and indirectly recursive relationships emerging between AGs and parliamentarians, the media and the public. Research limitations/implications: PA merits renewed researcher attention as it is now an established process but with ongoing variability in focus and stakeholder influence. Social implications: As an audit technology now well-embedded in the public sector accountability setting, it offers potential insights into matters of local, state and national importance for parliament and the public, but exhibits variable underlying drivers, agendas and styles of presentation that have the capacity to enhance or detract from the public interest. Originality/value: Performance audit emerges as a complex practice deployed as a mask by auditors in managing their relationship with key stakeholders.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Support of a CPA Australia research grant for the work on this project is gratefully acknowledged.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Parker, Professor Lee
Authors: Parker, L. D., Jacobs, K., and Schmitz, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Publisher:Emerald
ISSN:0951-3574
ISSN (Online):1758-4205
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 32(1):280-306
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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