International Journal of Government Auditing–January 2013
PASAI Congress Held in New Caledonia
The 15th congress of the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) was held at Nouméa, New Caledonia, October 2–5, 2012. The Congress brought together the heads and representatives of 15 SAIs and regional audit offices from throughout the Oceania region. PASAI was honored by the presence of Terence Nombembe, chairman of the INTOSAI Governing Board, and Josef Moser, INTOSAI secretary general, together with representatives of the SAIs of China and France and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI). Other PASAI development partners and a number of key stakeholders also attended.
At the Congress, the heads of Pacific SAIs reaffirmed the principles of regional cooperation and individual leadership that form the basis for the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative (PRAI) and committed themselves to following those principles in future initiatives.
The PRAI was developed to address the challenges posed by variable standards of public auditing in the Pacific. It provides support within a framework of regional cooperation under the Pacific Plan as endorsed by the Pacific Forum Leaders in 2005. Strong public auditing practices are central to achieving good governance outcomes, which—in turn—can contribute to improved economic performance and growth outcomes for Pacific Island countries.
In his addresses to the Congress, Mr. Nombembe stressed the importance of individual leadership by SAI heads, focusing on the core role of the SAI within each country's system of governance. He commended the PRAI as an example of mutual cooperation and capacity building that places PASAI at the forefront of global regional initiatives within the INTOSAI community. This reflects the motto of INTOSAI, "Mutual Experience Benefits All."
These themes were reflected in the reports presented to the congress by each attending SAI, which showed considerable progress in performance auditing and some enhancement to the quality of reports to legislatures. SAIs also continue to benefit from the regional programs offered by PASAI, including training and staff development, the availability of auditing manuals and guidelines, and the opportunity to participate in cooperative financial and performance audits.
Much remains to be done to realize PASAI's goal of helping its member SAIs to improve the quality of public auditing in the Pacific to uniformly high standards. The Congress stressed the need for SAIs to continue communicating their achievements while being realistic about the capability challenges faced in many jurisdictions— which are often not only within the SAI itself but also in the wider system of public financial management. Problems such as shortages of professionally qualified staff and high staff turnover, combined with the unavailability of accounts for audit, pose major challenges for many SAIs in carrying out their mandates.
The Congress received reports on the completion of several major achievements under the PRAI in 2011 and 2012. The first phase of PASAI's capacity building program is nearing a successful completion. Four auditing manuals (on human resource management, quality assurance, performance auditing, and reporting) have been published. These valuable resources are now available for use by all PASAI members and continue to be in demand from other INTOSAI regional groups. A manual on financial auditing (drawn from one developed by another regional working group, AFROSAI-E) and guidelines on strategic management and operations will soon be completed. The initial program of training courses under the PRAI has also been completed, resulting in the establishment of a cadre of instructors in SAIs throughout the region who will continue to lead training on a regional and national basis into the future.
Inside INTOSAI The second round of the Subregional Audit Support program was completed in early 2012. The program involves a cooperative approach to the completion of financial audits in Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu. The audits have had significant benefits for both in-country public financial management and governance, and the capacity development of the three SAIs and their staff. The Congress endorsed the intention to begin a third round of the program in 2013.
Significant progress has also been made in the work of cooperative regional performance auditing. PASAI's second cooperative regional audit, on the management of safe drinking water, was completed in 2012. A third audit, dealing with sustainable fisheries management across the Pacific region, is now being finalized. These are major achievements, and the Congress heard of the significant implementation of the reports' recommendations in a number of the participating jurisdictions. The congress also endorsed the commencement of a fourth cooperative audit, on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, which was to commence in late 2012.
The Congress endorsed PASAI's most recent report on the state of accountability and transparency in the Pacific region, which was completed in early 2012 following a number of in-depth studies in selected jurisdictions. The study concluded that the picture of accountability and transparency across the region remains mixed, but it identified a number of positive and emerging good practices. The Congress encouraged PASAI and other international, regional, and national institutions to use the report in a concerted effort to promote consistent approaches and the sharing of ideas to improve governance outcomes in the Pacific.
The PRAI was originally developed and endorsed by the 2008 Congress as a 4-year program and is drawing to a close. PASAI and its development partners will formally evaluate the program as the first step in developing a new strategy to sustain PASAI's work on a long-term basis in both the region and the individual SAIs in their respective country systems. The Congress mandated PASAI's Governing Board to continue to address these matters in conjunction with its development partners and as a member of the international SAI community.
Participants in the Congress were most grateful for the extensive organizational work by staff of the New Caledonia SAI and PASAI's Secretariat and the leadership and hospitality provided by François Monti, the President of the New Caledonia SAI, as the Congress host. With the encouragement of its international leaders and development partners, PASAI now looks forward to continuing its collective and individual effort to improve public auditing and contribute to improved governance in the Pacific region.
For additional information, contact Eroni Vatuloka, PASAI Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.