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Inquiry into aspects of ACC's Board-level governance

4 April 2012

The Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, has decided to carry out an inquiry into how the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) manages risk at the Board level of the organisation. This document sets out the terms of reference for our inquiry.


During March 2012, concerns were raised about a significant breach of privacy by ACC, and about the interaction between ACC and a particular client (Ms Pullar). We received several requests for the Auditor-General to inquire into aspects of that interaction and into ACC’s general operations.

The Privacy Commissioner and the Board of ACC have already begun to investigate the privacy breach and to assess ACC’s policies and practices for the privacy and security of information. The Police are considering a complaint about a related matter.

The Auditor-General has decided to inquire into aspects of ACC’s governance that will not be examined by the other investigations.

The inquiry

The inquiry into ACC will examine:

  • the policies and practices at ACC for managing risks relating to conflicts of interest, legal compliance, and communications between Board members and clients and staff;
  • the policies and practices that apply when claimants personally contact Board members;
  • how any matters relating to Ms Pullar that came to the attention of the Board or individual Board members were dealt with; and
  • any other matters that the Auditor-General considers it desirable to report on.

The inquiry is being carried out under section 18(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001. We will publish a report when the inquiry is completed.

Contact for queries

For media queries, please contact Tamar McKewen (Communications Advisor, Media) on (04) 917 1879.

Background information

The role of the Auditor-General

The Auditor-General is an officer of Parliament, and as such, is independent of the central and local government entities that we audit. The Auditor-General cannot be ordered to conduct an inquiry and has responsibility for determining the nature and scope of any inquiry. The Auditor-General has wide powers to request information, and decides what information to disclose or include in a report.

The stages of an inquiry

Every inquiry has four broad stages:

  • Gathering information: We review relevant documentation held by the public entity and other relevant individuals and organisations, and meet with or interview people who have been involved in the issues we are looking into.
  • Analysis: We analyse the information we have gathered and form our preliminary views.
  • Preparing a draft report and consultation: Once we have drafted a report, we consult as necessary on its content to ensure that it is factually accurate and that the rights of any affected parties are properly protected.
  • Publication: We then finalise and publish the report.

General policy on comment during inquiries

Once the Auditor-General has begun an inquiry, the Office will not normally make any public comment on the substance or progress of the inquiry until we release a report. This policy protects the rights of those involved in the inquiry and our ability to carry out the work effectively and efficiently.

It is hard to predict what might emerge or transpire as we carry out an inquiry so it is equally hard to predict when we might be ready to report our findings. In general terms, relatively contained inquiries usually take 2-3 months. Larger and more complex inquiries can take 6-12 months.

Further information

More information on the Auditor-General’s inquiry function is available at

Page last updated: 4 April 2012

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