International Journal of Government Auditing – October 2003
CAROSAI Convenes Its Sixth Triennial Congress in Bermuda
“Promoting Good Governance” was the theme of the Sixth Triennial Congress of the Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI), which was held from August 10-15, 2003. Hosted by the SAI of Bermuda, the conference was characterized by an upbeat atmosphere during its meetings, caucuses, programs, and other activities. Representatives from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Norway, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela met together to promote understanding and cooperation among institutions through the exchange of audit ideas and experiences. The week-long Congress was highlighted by many presentations that elaborated on various audit techniques, audit programs, audit manuals, formats, and standards used by SAIs to help them accomplish their work. Fraud and corruption in the public sector and training in public sector accounts and audits were topics of much discussion and concern among the attendees.
Considered a major success, the Congress drew the attention of both the local newspaper and television in Bermuda. Two consecutive articles in The Royal Gazette echoed the Congress themes regarding the public’s right to know the financial condition of its government and the responsibility of supreme audit institutions (SAI) to expose fraud and corruption in democratic governments.
A Clear and Present Danger: Corruption in Government
One full day of the CAROSAI Congress was devoted to the theme of preventing corruption and fraud and the important role SAIs should play in this effort. “Corruption is a global problem affecting both industrialized and developing countries,” said Mr. Adrian Strachan, the Auditor General of Jamaica, who presented the main paper on this theme. “It has surfaced in all forms of government and in all spheres of society. Corruption inhibits private investment, distorts public investments, slows growth and worsens poverty. It results in the waste of resources and reduces the quality of life.” Mr. Strachan’s report listed the following as the most common areas in which public sector corruption manifests itself:
Mr. Strachan also said that in certain quarters it was now being proposed that auditors play a more direct role in identifying those suspected of committing fraud. “Some suggest that SAIs should conduct forensic audits aimed at obtaining the evidence necessary to secure the successful prosecution of suspects. Others go so far as to suggest that SAIs should be in the forefront in prosecuting the cases against those charged with fraud.” Mr. Terrance Bastian, the Auditor General of the Bahamas, stated that the “task of preventing corruption can be a very difficult one as the nature of auditing is examining records and information after the fact.” Mrs. Arah Armstrong, the Auditor General of Antigua and Barbuda, stated that it is often difficult to detect corruption. Although corruption may be suspected, there is seldom enough evidence to report with certainty that it has actually taken place. However, she went on to say that corruption had to be fought with the aid of the police department, whose duty it is to investigate cases of suspected fraud, corruption, and irregularity. The SAI and other agencies are useful in creating an environment unfavorable to corruption so as to promote good governance. She wanted to see a more holistic approach to the problem whereby all the established institutions in the fight against corruption come together and complement each other to create one main strategy.
Training Remains a Central Priority
Since the last Congress in 2000, a series of IDI-sponsored workshops and other training programs have been held in CAROSAI—in St. Kitts, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada. During this Congress, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the National Audit Office of the United Kingdom (NAO), the Secretary General of CAROSAI, and IDI to coordinate these initiatives through training and other capacity-building activities that will enable CAROSAI members to strengthen and enhance the quality of their audits. In particular, the three entities agreed to coordinate training efforts initially to enhance financial, value-for-money, and performance audits; resource management within SAIs; human resource management; and relationships with clients and other stakeholders. The memorandum demonstrates the commitment of the NAO, CAROSAI, and IDI to supporting external public audit in the Caribbean through regional training and a continuation of the work of the Long Term Regional Training Program (LTRTP), which began in 1996.
Observers’ Presentations to the Congress
A number of observers from the global auditing community attended the CAROSAI Congress and made presentations on matters of interest to the delegates. On behalf of IDI, Mr. Magnus Borge provided an update on the second LTRTP in cooperation with CAROSAI. Sir John Bourn, the Auditor General of the United Kingdom, discussed “Performance Measurement in the Real World.” Mrs. Linda Pearl Fealing of the Organization of American States (OAS) brought greetings from her organization and presented CAROSAI with a display of international flags. Mr. Andy Wynne and Mr. Emile Valere of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) gave two presentations on how the independence of the auditor general can be improved. Mr. Clodosbaldo Russián, Comptroller General of Venezuela and President of OLACEFS, along with his assistant Mr. Marcel Cartaya, provided an update on the training and networking activities between CAROSAI and OLACEFS. Mr. Benjamin Ross of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) gave an overview of his organization with an emphasis on its International Auditor Fellowship Training Program.
CAROSAI Organizational Business
CAROSAI welcomed several new heads of SAIs who had been named to their positions since the last Congress in 2000. These included Mr. Peter Holland of Anguilla, Mr. Ian Fuller of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr. Lionel L. Bernard of Haiti, Mr. Terrace Bastian of the Bahamas, and Ms. Florence Lee of Montserrat.
For additional information, contact: Mrs. Jocelyn Thompson, Secretary General of CAROSAI, Auditor General’s Department, P.O. Box 340, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; fax: ++1 (868) 627 - 0152, 625 - 53 54; e-mail: email@example.com.