International Journal of Government Auditing–October 2007
The South Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (SPASAI) met in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, September 10–14, 2007. The theme for the Congress was regional SAI cooperation and collaboration on regional audit initiatives, and the Congress was hosted by the SAI of Papua New Guinea. In addition to delegates from 12 SPASAI members, there were stakeholders from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID (Australia’s foreign assistance agency), China, INTOSAI, the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, and Stantons International. Two new SPASI members also participated in the Congress: the Australian Audit Office and the Chambre Territoriale des Comptes de la Polynésie Française.
Participants in 10th SPASAI Conference held in Papua New Guinea in September 2007.
Consistent with the theme of the congress, many of the presentations focused on the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative (PRAI), whose objective is to raise Pacific public auditing to uniformly high standards. This effort is being developed within the context of the broader Pacific Plan,1 which has four pillars: economic growth, sustainable development, good governance, and security through regionalism. PRAI falls under the good governance pillar, specifically improved transparency, accountability, and equity and efficiency in managing and using resources. To support this effort, SPASAI members formed a Regional Institutional Strengthening Committee comprising representatives from Fiji, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Several Stantons International consultants gave presentations related to PRAI. Neville Smith noted that achieving the PRAI design will require an in-depth understanding of the challenges SAIs in the region face, factors SAIs can control and influence, and identification of those challenges that are regional in nature and those that are SAI-specific. Linda Weeks discussed the key challenge facing the global accountability community of relatively high staff turnover and critical staff shortages. She also reviewed the overall human resource management model and its transformation through revised performance competencies. Kerry McGovern talked about her initial visits to three SPASAI members: Fiji, Palau, and Papua New Guinea.
Sanjesh Naidu of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat provided context for the PRAI effort, discussing how it fits within the context of the broader Pacific Plan to Strengthen Regional Cooperation and Integration. He discussed concrete examples of regional approaches to furthering goals in the Pacific Plan; for example, customs agents in member states have pooled resources to do postclearance audits.
Pritom Phookun of the INTOSAI Development Initiative discussed the status of a range of work done by regional SAI groups on capacity-building needs assessment,strategic planning, capacity strengthening, and developing IT audit capabilities. He also provided an example of recent work carried out in one nation on a capacity-building framework, discussing the methodology used to conduct the study and the importance of cooperating with local audit staff in carrying out this work.
Jim Kirwan of the Department of Finance, Papua New Guinea, made a presentation titled “Auditing for Impact: A Perspective from the Department of Finance.” He emphasized that auditing for impact requires SAIs to build business relationships within the government in order to be effective, while ensuring independence of the audit office. He stressed that audit findings alone are insufficient to ensure change.
Steve Chapman, Deputy Auditor General of Australia’s National Audit Office, made a presentation titled “The Journey to Performance Auditing in Australia.” In 2006-07, the National Audit Office tabled 51 performance audit reports in the Parliament. He highlighted key legislation, early performance audit experience, and lessons learned to date. He summarized by noting that performance audits are a useful complement to financial audits and are “worth the effort.” He cautioned that transitioning to performance auditing requires commitment and the development of new skills for staff accustomed to doing financial audits.
Peter Achterstraat, Auditor General of the state of New South Wales, Australia, discussed recent developments, including audit coverage, budget, staffing, and the office’s audit responsibilities. He also provided a comparative discussion of work done by other investigative agencies in his region and how they relate to his office’s mandate, e.g., the Independent Commission against Corruption, the Ombudsman Office, and the Police Integrity Commission. Kevin Brady, Controller and Auditor General for New Zealand, was unanimously appointed to another term as SPASAI’s Secretary General.
The location for the 11th SPASAI congress was not determined at the close of the meeting although it was agreed that it needed to be held in early 2008 with the timing dependent on the progress of the Pacific Regional Audit Initiative.
The Papua New Guinea Audit Office organized a comprehensive program to ensure
that participants experienced a range of cultural and recreational activities in the
Port Moresby region. Delegates and stakeholders were invited to attend opening and
closing receptions at the National Parliament building. There was also a group visit to a
memorial established to honor those who died in the World War II Papua New Guinea
campaign, a national park overlooking the Port Moresby region, and a botanical garden.
Throughout the week, congress participants were treated to traditional shows that
featured dances and songs characteristic of Papua New Guinea and the regional culture.
For additional information, contact Secretary Kevin Brady, Auditor-General of New
Fax: ++64 4 917 1509