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

Parker, L, 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, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 280-306.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title New public management and the rise of public sector performance audit: Evidence from the Australian case
Author(s) Parker, L
Jacobs, K
Schmitz, J
Year 2019
Journal name Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume number 32
Issue number 1
Start page 280
End page 306
Total pages 27
Publisher Emerald Publishing Limited
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.
Subject Accounting, Auditing and Accountability not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Audit society
Auditor general
New public management
Performance audit
DOI - identifier 10.1108/AAAJ-06-2017-2964
Copyright notice © Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN 0951-3574
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