International Journal of Government Auditing–July 2011
21st Conference of Commonwealth Auditors-General in Namibia
The 21st Conference of Commonwealth Auditors-General was held in Windhoek, Namibia, April 10–13, 2011. The conference, entitled “Pioneering Excellence in Public Sector Auditing,” brought together 38 representatives of the 54 Commonwealth Auditors-General.
Representatives of more than 20 SAIs delivered principal and country papers on the following conference themes:
- strengthening financial management in the public sector (chaired by the SAI of the Cayman Islands),
- aligning institutional capacity and performance of SAIs (chaired by the SAI of Gambia), and
- international developments in building SAI capacity—the commonwealth’s role (chaired by the SAI of the United Kingdom).
The final theme was discussed in a workshop in which the future role of the Commonwealth Auditors-General conferences was also deliberated.
Participants in the Commonwealth Auditors-General Conference in Namibia in April 2011.
INTOSAI’s Director of Strategic Planning, Monika González-Koss, represented INTOSAI at the conference. She informed participants about recent INTOSAI developments, including the INTOSAI initiative to strengthen independence, the upcoming 21st United Nations/INTOSAI Symposium in July 2011, and the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation initiative. She also gave a brief account of the XX INCOSAI held in Johannesburg in November 2010.
Theme One: Strengthening Financial Management in the Public Sector
Conference participants elaborated the following key points related to the first theme, strengthening financial management in the public sector.
- SAIs should consider recommending that their governments adopt national and international standards such as the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
- SAIs should consider recommending that their governments move toward accrual accounting.
- A strong legal framework is necessary to strengthen financial management in order to safeguard public assets and use public resources in the most economic, efficient, and effective way.
- Sound planning and budgeting are needed to ensure the robust fiscal and macroeconomic policies necessary for economic growth.
- The budget process should be transparent and consultative and involve all stakeholders. It should focus on outputs rather than processes and inputs.
- Financial laws and regulations should stipulate the responsibilities of accounting officers and establish internal control systems that include an internal audit function and audit committees.
- Public financial management can only be improved if there are institutions responsible for monitoring and overseeing public funds, such as SAIs and Parliament.
- SAIs help to strengthen financial management of the public sector by conducting different types of audits.
- The effectiveness of a country’s financial management can be enhanced by the strong institutional capacity of its SAI.
Theme Two: Aligning Institutional Capacity and SAI Performance
The following key points were noted for the second theme, aligning institutional capacity and SAI performance.
- INTOSAI’s Building Capacity in SAIs: A Guide is a useful capacity-building tool for SAIs.
- The stocktaking report INTOSAI and the international donor community produced in 2010 incorporates the key areas that were found to require the most attention from SAIs.
- The framework for communicating and promoting the value and benefit of SAIs, endorsed by the XX INCOSAI in 2010, is an important document in promoting and building SAIs as independent model institutions.
- The AFROSAI institutional capacity framework provides a comprehensive set of provisions relating to SAI capacity building.
- Capacity building is not an end in itself but should be aligned with improving SAI performance to meet stakeholders’ expectations.
- International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) and INTOSAI Guidance on Good Governance (INTOSAI GOV) serve as the basis for SAI capacity building.
- Legislative provisions that adequately ensure SAIs’ functional independence, such as the Lima and Mexico Declarations, are essential to align capacity building with improving the performance of SAIs.
- The issue of aligning capacity building and SAI performance is to be addressed in relation to audit standards and methodology as well as in other areas affecting SAIs, namely their legal framework, organization and management, human resources, and communication and stakeholder management.
- SAIs need to build capacity in all the types of auditing they conduct, including financial and regulatory audits, performance/value-for-money audits, IT audits, environmental audits, social audits, and special audits and investigations.
- Commonwealth SAIs should interact among themselves, as well as with other SAIs, to identify opportunities for collaborative capacity-building activities that can help improve the performance of their respective SAIs.
- Peer reviews among Commonwealth SAIs, as well as among other SAIs, help identify areas requiring improvement and capacity-building activities that are needed.
- Collaborating with local and foreign professional and other organizations—such as civil society, Parliament, the executive, auditees, internal auditors, academic organizations, and private sector auditors—can also help SAIs identify areas for capacity building.
- To ensure that capacity-building activities address the goals and vision of the government, each SAI should align its goals with those of the government.
- SAIs must be flexible and adaptive in their capacity-building activities in order to adapt to changing circumstances.
- SAIs’ strategic plans should take into account any capacity-building activities that may be required in the short, medium, or long term.
- Capacity-building activities to improve SAI performance are not one-time activities but are to be sustained over the medium and long term.
The SAI of Namibia under its Auditor-General, Junias Etuna Kandjeke, deserves particular praise for its excellent organization of the conference. With their tireless efforts behind the scenes, the members of the Office of the Auditor-General created ideal conditions for an efficient and successful meeting. As participants, we were captivated by the beauty of Namibia and appreciated its positive aspects. From the moment we arrived, we felt the warmth of Namibian hospitality. The friendliness of our reception and the amiability of the conference staff, which transmitted itself immediately to all participants, will long be remembered.
For additional information, contact the Namibian SAI at email@example.com.
Published by the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee, this guide is available at http://cbc.courdescomptes.ma.
INTOSAI Development Initiative, Capacity Development of Supreme Audit Institutions: Status, Needs and Good Practices, INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation Stocktaking Report 2010, available at www.idi.no under INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation documents.
XX INCOSAI, “The Framework for Communicating and Promoting the Value and Benefit of SAIs,” The Johannesburg Accords: 27 November 2010. XX INCOSAI Johannesburg, Annexure A. Available at http://www.intosai.org/blueline/upload/jhbaccordsen.pdf.
Available at http://afrosai-e.org.za/institutional-capacity-building-framework.