International Journal of Government Auditing–April 2011
Auditors-General from around the Pacific region convened the 13th congress of the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) in Tarawa, Kiribati, July 7–9, 2010. Attendees included the heads of SAIs or their representatives from Australia, New South Wales (Australia), the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
The Vice President of Kiribati, the Honorable Teima Onorio, welcomed the PASAI members and discussed the critical role that audit offices play in promoting good governance. She noted that auditors perform an essential service to strengthen accountability and transparency in government. “Given the competing demands on the limited resources available to their governments, public auditors often had to make do with an underresourced office. That is now changing, thanks to the collective and individual efforts of the auditing profession,” said Ms. Onorio.
She acknowledged the good work that PASAI has spearheaded under the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative (PRAI), particularly the pooling of resources to address common objectives, such as the Sub-regional Audit Support (SAS) program. Ms. Onorio also acknowledged the continuing support of PASAI’s development partners.
Saturnino Tewid, the acting Public Auditor of Palau and outgoing Chairperson of PASAI, thanked the Governing Board and members for their support in the progress that PASAI had made during the past 12 months. “PASAI has made encouraging achievements and the task ahead looks promising for SAIs in the region,” stated Mr. Tewid.
Raimon Taake, the Auditor-General of Kiribati, accepted the chairmanship of the association and thanked the congress, saying that he looked forward to the members’ cooperation and support during the next 12 months.
PASAI Secretary-General Lyn Provost reported to the congress on the key decisions made at the Governing Board meeting, held in Nadi, Fiji, on July 5, 2010.
She stated that “the establishment of the PASAI Secretariat in Auckland and the registration of the association as an incorporated society under New Zealand laws are important milestones for PASAI.” The Secretariat opened for business at 46 Parnell Road, Auckland, on January 18, 2010. It will soon be fully resourced and able to conduct its activities effectively for the benefit of association members. It is important to focus on funding for PASAI activities; most importantly, a medium- to long-term strategy needs to be developed to ensure the sustainability of PASAI. The PASAI Web site is being revamped and will contain reports, publications, and the latest updates on the progress of PASAI activities.
The Secretary General noted that the PASAI accountability report for 2009 had been completed, and the congress endorsed its publication. In addition, it was agreed that the Secretary-General and Executive Director would prepare a communication strategy to maximize the impact of accountability and transparency reports during the life of the PRAI. The Executive Director will plan the 2010 survey/work, consult with partners, and consider opportunities for linking this work with other governance initiatives in the Pacific. The report will focus on mandates, independence, and parliamentary scrutiny (which were matters of concern the 2009 report identified) and maximize opportunities to identify good practice on these matters. The 2010 accountability work plan was to be circulated to the Governing Board for comment and approval by September 30, 2010.
The capacity-building program started with a kickoff conference in Auckland, June 21–29, 2010. “If the enthusiasm of the participants [members of the working groups] is anything to go by, PASAI should expect successful development of the manuals, guidelines, and training materials,” said Linda Weeks, Capacity Building Program Advisor. The appointment and confirmation of some members of the Governing Board as “champions” of the manuals and training materials will lend support to the working groups’ products. Mrs. Weeks also emphasized the need for more PASAI members to be professionally certified, and the program has grouped SAIs into certification clusters to facilitate the process. Peter Achterstraat, the Auditor General of New South Wales, Australia, will head a committee to explore certification opportunities for auditors in the Pacific region.
The Sub-regional Audit Support (SAS) program had a successful first year. The on-the-job training of secondees in Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru provided much-needed financial audit support to the small island states and, in the process, updated a few outstanding audits. The program established a benchmark to measure future improvements against, especially ways to overcome challenges specific to the islands. To continue to raise capacity in the audit offices, the program’s second round will involve audits of the same entities. The Asian Development Bank audit expert, Beulah Daunakamakama, shared her experiences in the program as well as those of the secondees. The program was rewarding and challenging for all involved.
The first cooperative performance audit ended successfully. All 10 of the Auditors-General involved signed off on the reports on the management of solid waste in their jurisdictions. Some of the reports have been made public and attracted wide media attention. “The success of the first cooperative performance audit was due to the manner in which the audit was planned and executed, and peer-reviewed,” said Claire Kelly, the Audit Advisor. A regional report on the audit has been drafted and will be made public after all 10 audit reports have been tabled in their respective legislatures and made public. The congress endorsed the report and looked forward to the second cooperative performance audit on access to fresh drinking water. A planning meeting for this audit was to be held in Nadi, Fiji, in 2011.
During the congress, speakers reported on other programs and activities in the region. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) discussed accountability and financial reporting in the Pacific region. ADB technical assistance is expected to provide support to the three small island states in preparing the accounts of selected entities that will be subject to SAS audits. There were also presentations by the Pacific Commonwealth Network on Internal Audit, the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), and members who represent PASAI on INTOSAI committees and working groups.
The PASAI Congress appointed New Zealand as the Secretary-General and member of the INTOSAI Governing Board, and New South Wales, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands as the certification committee.
The next PASAI Congress will be held August 1–5, 2011, in Tonga.
In closing the congress, Secretary-General Lyn Provost said that PASAI should be proud of its achievements. She emphasized that the work program for 2010–2011 should align with the performance management framework and that a medium- to long-term funding strategy should be put in place. “It is essential in PASAI’s progress that the results of PASAI’s work, especially the PRAI activities, have lasting impact in the region,” added Ms. Provost.
For additional information, contact Lyn Provost, Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand and Secretary-General of PASAI, e-mail: Lyn.Provost@oag.govt.nz.