Congresses and Conferences


International Journal of Government Auditing–January 2005

XIV OLACEFS General Assembly Held in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Heads of delegations at XIV OLACEFS
Heads of delegations at XIV OLACEFS Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in November 2004.

 

Delegates from Latin American SAIs met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 15-19, 2004, to celebrate the XIV General Assembly of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS). The Assembly was hosted by the Argentine SAI (Auditoria General de la Nación). Participating OLACEFS members were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Some associate members (mainly regional audit offices from Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia) also attended. Delegates of those countries were joined by observers representing the INTOSAI general secretariat, the INTOSAI Development Initiative, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, the European Court of Auditors, and the SAIs of the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony took place in the Hotel Sheraton Libertador. In his opening speech, Dr. Clodosbaldo Russián Uzcategui, comptroller general of Venezuela and President of OLACEFS, expressed his gratitude to the Argentine SAI for the excellent organization of the event and gave a heartfelt welcome to all participants. Dr. Josef Moser, Secretary General of INTOSAI, expressed his great pleasure in attending his first meeting with one of INTOSAI’s seven regional working groups. He stressed the importance of the support that OLACEFS members have provided to INTOSAI and expressed his hope for that support to be continued, especially in view of the challenges posed by the INTOSAI strategic plan approved at the 18th INCOSAI in Budapest. Mr. Sergey Stepashin, auditor general of the Russian Federation and President of EUROSAI, emphasized the excellent cooperation between the SAIs of Europe and Latin America, especially in fighting corruption and international money laundering.

Dr. Leandro Despouy, head of the host Argentine SAI, underscored the importance of celebrating the OLACEFS Assembly in Argentina as a sign of Argentina’s recovery from its deep economic crisis. He also discussed the importance of his SAI’s work as the principal public entity in Argentina for auditing and detecting irregularities. The last speaker was the honorable vice president of the Republic of Argentina, Mr. Daniel O. Scioli.

Technical Theme Presentations

The XIV OLACEFS General Assembly was organized around three technical themes. Plenary addresses introduced each theme, followed by delegates’ debates on the professional and technical issues raised in the principal papers and other presentations. Conclusions and recommendations were developed and approved for each theme.

Theme I: Citizens’ Involvement in the Control of Public Funds–Experiences of SAIs

The SAI of Venezuela was the coordinator, the SAI of Uruguay was the moderator, and the SAI of Argentina was the rapporteur for this theme. The lead paper was prepared by the SAI of Venezuela, with country papers filed by the SAIs of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, and Spain. OLACEFS members took an active part in the debate on this theme. The conclusions and recommendations included the following:

  • Within OLACEFS, there is an increasing need for citizens to be actively involved in the control of public projects and programs. This involvement is indispensable in seeking to resolve the problem of better management of public funds.
  • Citizens should become involved gradually in those matters that are most important to the nation and that will improve individual living conditions.
  • The mass media are the best tool to motivate citizens’ participation in control. However, this involvement should never replace the work of an independent and professional SAI.

Theme II: Audits of Municipal and Other Local Services

The SAI of Chile, coordinator of this theme, stressed the need for SAIs to pay increased attention to this field of auditing. The SAI of the Dominican Republic, as moderator, and the SAI of Argentina, as rapporteur, and many other SAIs provided further analysis and discussions. The conclusions and recommendations include the following:

  • Within their legal frameworks, SAIs should focus their attention on contributing to better management of local governments.
  • SAIs should clearly define the municipal and other services to be audited, taking into account their special economic, social, and cultural characteristics.
  • As local governments take on a greater role in different regions and assume new responsibilities and functions, they require increased financial resources, which must be accurately audited by SAIs.
  • Coordination with internal control units should be intensified and improved.
  • SAIs should develop a unified, electronically assisted system to audit the management and performance of municipal and other local services.

Theme III: Accountability

The SAI of Panama, theme coordinator, had prepared the lead paper. The SAI of Nicaragua was the moderator and the SAI of Argentina, the rapporteur. The conclusions and recommendations for this theme include the following:

  • There is a broad consensus about the need to find a new unified definition for accountability and its different aspects in the member countries.
  • The SAIs agreed to consider the World Bank definition, according to which accountability means that civil servants have an obligation not only to inform on their activities and transactions but also to justify them.
  • Accountability should also include an analysis of performance.

Other Matters

INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI)

The representatives of IDI, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the OLACEFS Regional Training Committee (SAI of Venezuela) presented an e-learning project that is being piloted for the first time within INTOSAI in the Caribbean and Latin American group. This project resulted from the close cooperation between OLACEFS, OAS, and IDI. Once this project is fully implemented, it offers the potential to train an unrestricted number of auditors at an extremely low cost.

Third EUROSAI-OLACEFS Seminar

The representative of the U.K. National Audit Office presented the conclusions of the third joint EUROSAI-OLACEFS Seminar held in London in May 2004.

The seminar’s first theme, SAI experiences of e-government, addressed the importance of e-government’s potential to enhance the quality of public services and reduce costs. However, e-government also brings with it new risks and challenges for SAIs.

The debates on the second theme, training and equipping state auditors for their roles, focused on the challenges SAIs face in attempting to provide state auditors with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their jobs. Discussions also covered hiring and training new staff and planning, implementing, and evaluating development activities.

OLACEFS Resolution on Audit of Public Debt

During the meeting of the OLACEFS Governing Board, which was held in Buenos Aires on November 15, 2004, the “OLACEFS Resolution on the Audit of Public Debt” was approved. This resolution outlines the most important characteristics of this transcendent problem for all OLACEFS members. For more detailed information on this document, please contact Dr. Sonia Pascual from the Argentine General Audit Bureau at e-mail: pascual@agn.gov.ar.

OLACEFS Investigation Award

The theme of the 2004 OLACEFS competition was the audit of public debt. The OLACEFS award for investigation on this theme was given to Mr. Laerzio Mendes Vieira from the Brazilian Court of Audit.

Treaty of Cooperation

The SAIs of Cuba and Chile signed a mutual cooperation treaty regarding new technologies and training activities.

General Business Session

During the general business plenary of the General Assembly, the OLACEFS Regional Training Committee reported on its multiple training projects, especially the conclusion of the IDI/OLACEFS long-term regional training plan and the Participant Orientation and Skills Assessment Workshop.

The SAI of Chile assumed the chair of OLACEFS for the next 2 years; the new chairman of OLACEFS will be Mr. Gustavo Eduardo Sciolla Avendaño.

The Regional Brazilian Audit Office, the Tribunal de Cuentas de St. Catarina, was accepted as a new associate member of OLACEFS. The new OLACEFS Governing Board comprises the SAIs of Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Paraguay. The SAIs of Colombia and Cuba were designated as auditors of OLACEFS.

El Salvador was named as the site of the OLACEFS General Assembly in June 2005, and Ecuador will be the site in 2006.

Other Activities

Throughout the conference, the Argentine General Audit Bureau treated participants with great hospitality and warmth. Delegates and special invited guests attended an outstanding classical music concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires in the Teatro Colon and a spectacular tango show. On the last day of the Assembly, delegates and guests were taken on a marvelous excursion to the Argentine countryside, where they had the opportunity to taste the rich specialties Argentina offers to its visitors.

For additional information, please contact the OLACEFS general secretariat, Contraloría General, Av. Balboa y Av. Federico Boyt, Apartado 5213, Zona 5, Ciudad de Panama, Panamá; tel: ++507 264 00 59, 264 93 01; fax: ++507 263-93-22; email: centrodeinformacion@contraloria.gob.pa; Web page: www.contraloria.gob.pa.