LINZ conducts survey audits to provide reasonable assurance to licensed cadastral surveyors (LCSs), their firms and the Surveyor-General that they are complying with the Cadastral Survey Rules 2021 (the Rules), the Cadastral Survey Act 2002 and other regulatory and statutory requirements.

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Audit programme and methodology

The LINZ survey audit team usually audit 12 survey firms each year – 3 firms in a different region each quarter.

The firms to be audited are selected based on several criteria including when they were last audited, how recently the firm was established, and requisition rates. Sometimes a firm or LCS will request an audit. The Surveyor-General may also request a targeted audit.

LINZ's methodology includes conducting field, quality assurance and historic performance audits to assess the processes and controls used by the LCSs within their firms.

Field audit

Two cadastral survey datasets (CSDs) are selected for field audit from a list of CSDs submitted by the firm within the preceding 12 months. Where possible, one Class A survey and one Class B survey lodged by different surveyors within each firm are audited.

The audit will include checking that:

  • field measurements comply with the relevant accuracy standards of the Rules
  • all relevant field evidence, such as old survey marks and occupation, has been used to correctly define boundaries
  • boundaries have been marked and referenced as required by the Rules.

A full check of each CSD is also completed with results from the field and CSD checks being recorded in the Table of Audit Items (linked below).

Field audit point scoring

LINZ uses a point scoring methodology for field audit results to weight the respective impacts of critical, significant and minor errors. These weightings are not equivalent to the requisition severity weightings in Landonline. The field audit point scoring is:

  • 1 critical error = 10 points
  • 1 significant error = 4 points
  • 1 minor error = 1 point
The threshold for failure is set at 10 points on any one survey.

QA Process Audit (office audit)

The Quality Assurance (QA) Process Audit, also referred to as the office audit, consists of a visit to the LCS's firm to discuss and assess the processes and controls utilised to undertake cadastral surveys and prepare CSDs.

Prior to the office visit, the survey office manager will be asked to complete the pre-office visit Questionnaire (linked below). The questionnaire helps LINZ gain an understanding of the size of the associated firm, staffing and quality control processes. This will assist LINZ to plan the audit programme.

The office visit will be conducted by LINZ staff and it is expected that the office visit will take up to one day.

During the office visit, the audit team will require input, for different lengths of time, from:

  • the survey manager
  • the firm's LCSs, or at least the LCSs certifying the CSDs audited and
  • ideally field staff connected with the surveys under review.

During the office visit, LINZ auditors will:

  • discuss the issues raised in the Table of Audit Items
  • review the survey firm's quality processes, preferably documented, used in the execution of cadastral surveys and the submission of CSDs to LINZ
  • identify controls used by the survey firm for the submission of CSDs and determine if these controls are adequate to provide sufficient assurance to the Surveyor-General
  • assess any peer review processes
  • sample files of the CSDs audited and 2 additional survey files to determine if the controls identified have been documented consistently.

The review of the quality assurance processes will enable the audit team to indicate to the Surveyor-General that cadastral surveys are undertaken and CSDs are prepared in a consistent and compliant manner prior to lodgement with LINZ.

While survey firms will normally develop company quality assurance processes, the ultimate responsibility for the accuracy of a cadastral survey and CSD lies with the surveyor who certifies the CSD.

Discussions will be held throughout the audit with the LCSs as any issues or process improvement ideas are identified. These will also be summarised in a close out meeting where the findings and recommendations are discussed prior to the audit report being drafted.

Historic Performance

An analysis of all the CSDs submitted to LINZ within a selected date range by the LCS being audited, along with other LCSs in the firm, will be undertaken and provided as part of the office audit. The LCSs requisition rates will be compared against the national average and will also list the frequency of individual requisition codes. LCSs can then use the statistics to improve their field practices or quality assurance processes to reduce the number of repeat requisitions.

The findings from the historical performance statistics will form part of the overall office audit process.

Audit conclusions

The results from the field audits when combined with the office audit will form the basis of an overall conclusion, taking into account the audit team’s professional judgement. In reaching a conclusion, the audit team will consider options as summarised in the following scenarios:

Scenario

Field Work

QA Processes

Assurance

A

Reasonable

B

X

Uncertain

C

X

Uncertain

D

X

X

Unsatisfactory

LCSs and firms that pass both the field and office audits can have reasonable assurance that their processes and controls are adequate to produce cadastral surveys and CSDs that comply with the Rules. Where assurance is uncertain or unsatisfactory, recommendations will be made by the auditors for improvement. In some cases, additional auditing or correcting surveys may be required.

Reporting the audit conclusions

A draft report on the results of the audit will be sent to the survey firm. It will be issued promptly and will include a covering letter, findings, recommendations, result of CSD reviews and requisition statistics. Before returning the draft report to LINZ, the survey firm should comment on the content and accuracy of the report and complete the management response section. The Surveyor-General will then issue a final report.

The Surveyor-General may decide to further investigate any observations from the report and has a duty to advise the Cadastral Surveyors Licensing Board of any significant failure by an LCS to comply with the Rules (s 7(1)(c) Cadastral Survey Act 2002). A significant error identified in the field audit is not necessarily a ‘significant failure’. The Surveyor-General makes this determination.

If an error affecting property rights is identified on an audit, the Surveyor-General may require the LCS to correct the error under section 52 CSA 2002.

Additional auditing

When reasonable assurance (i.e. scenario B, C or D) is not obtained with the base level of auditing, then further sampling is required and can be in the form of:

  • additional field audits
  • follow-up audits to assess the implementation of agreed upon process improvement ideas,
  • survey firm monitoring, including CSD submissions.

The decision as to which form the further sampling will take will be determined following consultation between auditors and the Office of the Surveyor-General. The decision will be communicated to the LCS and the associated firm and could include the charging of audit fees in accordance with Schedule 2 of the Cadastral Survey (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2021.

Self-assessment questionnaire for survey firms

In addition to the full audit process detailed above, LINZ, with the endorsement of Survey and Spatial New Zealand and the Institute of Cadastral Surveyors Inc (ICS), offers a survey self-assessment questionnaire.

The self-assessment questionnaire is designed to help survey firms assess their control environment, and to provide guidance about the types of quality controls survey firms may use within their own office.

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