International Journal of Government Auditing – January 2004
Tenth ASOSAI Assembly and Third Symposium
The Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) held its 10th
and Third Symposium in Shanghai, China, September 10–16, 2006. Hosted
by the China National Audit Office (CNAO), the assembly drew delegates from 40
member SAIs as well as observers from the INTOSAI Secretariat General, INTOSAI
Development Initiative (IDI), this Journal, and the SAIs of the Côte d'Ivoire, the
United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Li Jinhua, Auditor General of China, and Han Zheng, the Mayor of Shanghai, led the opening ceremony at the Shanghai International Convention Center and warmly welcomed the delegates. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sent the delegates a welcome and congratulatory message.
Guillermo N. Carague, head of the SAI of the Philippines and chairman of the ASOSAI Governing Board, thanked the board for its active participation during his tenure (2003–2006). He noted that ASOSAI's membership had steadily increased, from 36 at the last assembly to 43 at this assembly, and welcomed the new members— Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Georgia, Laos, Mauritius, and Qatar. Mr. Carague noted, "The stakeholders increasingly look towards the Supreme Audit Institutions to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability. It is with this objective of continuously enhancing the quality of public audit that we have joined together to form ASOSAI."
Later in the proceedings, Mr. Carague handed over the chairmanship of ASOSAI to Li Jinhua. Mr. Li noted that during Mr. Carague's tenure, ASOSAI sponsored many training and capacity-building activities and made substantive progress in promoting
ASOSAI's development in the 21st century. He expressed his hope that ASOSAI members, working side by side, would continue to make progress in attaining the objectives specified in the ASOSAI charter.
Mr. Vijayendra Kaul, ASOSAI Secretary General, updated the delegates on the following activities since the last assembly:
Third Symposium's Theme Presentations
The Third Symposium's main theme was The Role of Auditing in Promoting Government Accountability. Mr. Cheng Siwei, Vice Chairman of the 10th National People's Assembly Standing Committee, delivered the keynote speech, emphasizing that from the perspective of the management and use of public resources, government accountability should cover process as well as finances and performance. Mr. Micha Lindenstrauss, State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel, delivered a special report.
The INTOSAI Secretariat and the SAIs of Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the United States presented papers for discussion. The following are highlights of their presentations.
INTOSAI's Role in Promoting Accountability
Dr. Josef Moser, INTOSAI Secretary General, noted that "the global process of change that affects government audit presents special challenges for INTOSAI." He used the INTOSAI tsunami initiative to illustrate how INTOSAI is helping promote government accountability worldwide by spurring development of global rules of conduct for the use of public funds.
Malaysia's Best Practices
Tan Sri Dato' Setia Ambrin bin Buang, Auditor General of Malaysia, described the evolving role of the National Audit Department in promoting government accountability. He concluded that (1) better government accountability could be achieved by adhering to high moral values, (2) all parties need to pay due attention to and comply with procedural and legislated requirements, (3) responsibilities must be clearly de- fined and understood, and (4) measurability means greater transparency, integrity, and ultimately accountability.
Importance of Performance Information
Kevin Brady, Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand, described his office's broad legislative mandate, experience, and independence as well as its importance in promoting accountability. He stressed the importance of understanding the performance information process as part of the strategic and choice-making context. By thinking about the appropriateness of entities' outputs, the targets, and the effect of entities' efforts and achievements, performance planning and actual performance information form a relevant and necessary feedback loop.
Facilitating Foresight on Emerging Issues
David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, suggested that SAIs should complement their traditional responsibilities by providing policymakers with foresight about key emerging issues. As an example, he cited GAO's publication of an unprecedented report entitled 21st Century Challenges that asks probing, and sometime provocative, questions about current government policies, programs, and operational practices.
New Global Paradigm
Muhammad Yunis Khan, Auditor General of Pakistan, discussed the three aspects of accountability: fiscal, managerial, and program. He stated that there are three global drivers of a paradigm shift—globalization, technical innovation, and customization. Mr. Khan noted, "Strategic alliances between SAIs in research, developing processes, and knowledge sharing will create a professional advantage, strengthening trust and enhancing credibility for SAIs with their stakeholders. In return, the stakeholders will benefit . . . at the international level."
A lively and interactive discussion involving 20 countries or agencies followed the presentations. The discussion generally focused around five themes: (1) the importance of government accountability, (2) auditor relations with legislative bodies and the media, (3) auditor relations with auditees, (4) the importance of mutual cooperation, and (5) auditors' roles and capacities. Delegates had mixed views about the suggestion that SAIs develop better relations with legislative bodies, the public, and the press if they are to strengthen the effectiveness of the accountability system. Some delegates believed that the news media should function as the bridge between auditors and the public, supporting and complementing audit work. Others thought that auditors should limit themselves to giving the media confirmed facts about audit results. Some delegates believed that it would be beneficial for auditors to have a participative relationship with the auditee and that such a relationship is possible without jeopardizing the auditor's independence and objectivity. Others believed that in promoting such relations with auditees, auditors risk becoming too involved in decision making relating to the auditee's policies.
Participants agreed that the existing cooperation between ASOSAI and the INTOSAI Secretariat should continue and be strengthened. SAIs should also consider strengthening relations with each other and improving accountability and transparency across national borders. Dr. Anwar Nasution, Chairman of the Indonesian SAI, suggested that SAIs collaborate with each other to assess governmental efforts to prepare for the possibility of an avian influenza pandemic. Discussion also focused on the auditor's ability to reach a larger audience with its reports and the need to focus on the auditor's right to impose sanctions. There was also much discussion on the need to enhance both auditor training and the ability of audit institutions to promote government accountability.
Election of New Members and Other Business
The assembly approved the SAI of China as the incoming chairman. It also unanimously appointed Mr. Vijayendra Kaul to another term as ASOSAI's Secretary General. The SAIs of Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey were elected to the Governing Board. The SAIs of Jordan and Outer Mongolia were elected to the Audit Committee.
The Governing Board also approved the papers presented at the Third Symposium, the report of the ASOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing, and the report of the INTOSAI Professional Standards Committee meetings. It also approved the budget for 2006–2008.
Mr. Khan, Auditor General of Pakistan, invited participants to the 11th ASOSAI assembly, which will be held in Pakistan in 2009.
Throughout the conference, the Auditor General of China treated participants with warmth and hospitality. Mr. Li Jinhua hosted a banquet for delegates and invited guests at the Shanghai Convention Center; the banquet was followed by a performance of the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. The auditors general of the Philippines, India, and Pakistan also hosted dinners at different venues.
Delegates and invited guests had the opportunity to ride the magnetic levitation train from the Long Yang Subway Station to Pudong International Airport and back and also visited the Oriental Pearl Tower, where they were able to view Shanghai, have lunch, and learn about Shanghai's history at the City Museum. Guests also toured Shanghai's Museum of Art and Urban Museum. The Shanghai mayor, Mr. Han Zheng, hosted the closing banquet at the Shanghai Exhibition Hall. Delegates and invited guests were treated to a boat ride on the Huangpu River, where they veiwed a beautiful fireworks display.
Information on the ASOSAI Assembly and Third Symposium is posted on the CNAO Web site.
For additional information, contact the China National Audit Office: