Cover Story


International Journal of Auditing – January 2009

New INTOSAI Communication Strategy Task Force Focuses on SAI Independence During 2009

New INTOSAI Communciations Strategy Task Force Focuses on SAI Independence During 2009
Josef Moser, INTOSAI General Secretary

Based on INTOSAI's motto (Mutual Experience Benefits All) and a desire to achieve the objectives of goal 3 of INTOSAI's strategic plan, the XIX INCOSAI in Mexico adopted a communications policy that promotes the free flow of information, the exchange of ideas and experience, and knowledge sharing. This policy was the first step toward ensuring effective, transparent, and accurate communication in INTOSAI that is both timely and accessible. However, a common strategy was needed to transform the communications policy into a useful, consistent, and efficient instrument that fosters communication not only within INTOSAI but also between INTOSAI and external partners. Therefore, in November 2007 the Governing Board established a special INTOSAI Communications Strategy Task Force. The Austrian Court of Audit, which hosts INTOSAI's General Secretariat, chairs the task force. To represent the unique strengths and needs of INTOSAI's seven regional working groups, the SAIs that host the General Secretariats for each region were asked to be members. Other task force members are the SAI of India, which developed the INTOSAI Collaboration Tool; the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI); the Director of Strategic Planning; and the SAI of the United States, which publishes this Journal.

While improving overall communication is its primary goal, the task force specifically aims to define useful communication tools and instruments; identify target groups; and agree on core messages and the means of conveying those messages to INTOSAI members, bodies, associated partners, and the broader public. With these ideas in mind, the Governing Board defined five objectives for the communications policy and strategy. Two focus on communication within INTOSAI while the other three objectives are linked to communication with partners and entities outside INTOSAI.

The objectives for improving internal communication are to

  • increase the knowledge of INTOSAI members to a uniform level through existing means of communication and
  • support INTOSAI members and promote convergence.

The objectives for enhancing external communication are to

  • convey the concerns of government audit to decision-makers and opinion leaders,
  • strengthen the position and reputation of SAIs and INTOSAI, and
  • disseminate the benefits of SAIs and INTOSAI among partner organizations.

These objectives are to be achieved by (1) communicating issues and concerns related to INTOSAI's work to all its members, (2) involving experts, (3) considering regional needs, and (4) identifying the added value of individual SAIs as well as INTOSAI as a whole. By doing so, INTOSAI will promote increased understanding, make professional information—such as International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI)—accessible to the public at large, and communicate openly with the media and other interested parties. Consequently, INTOSAI will not only act as a model organization but also become more visible as an active, international, and recognized partner for all issues related to government auditing.

Participants in the first meeting of the INTOSAI Communications Strategy Task Force
Participants in the first meeting of the INTOSAI Communications Strategy Task Force

Terms of reference for the Communications Strategy Task Force were agreed upon during its first meeting in November 2008, and the Governing Board subsequently adopted the terms. The task force also defined a plan of action and timetable for its activities up to the XX INCOSAI in 2010. Furthermore, the task force agreed to focus on a special area or theme each year and to promote activities, projects, and programs related to each theme.

For 2009, the task force chose as the theme the significance of independent government audit in light of the Lima and Mexico declarations. Individual SAIs, regional working groups, committees, subcommittees, working groups, and task forces are being asked to actively participate in elaborating on this theme. As Chair of the task force, the General Secretariat will publish a folder on this topic. In addition, this Journal will publish a series of articles on SAI independence throughout the year. Regional working groups and other INTOSAI bodies are being invited to cooperate with individual SAIs to organize activities dealing with this theme.

To enhance internal communication and make it easy for individual auditors to access relevant documents on this year's theme and other topics, the task force is creating a new, comprehensive, and user-friendly database on the INTOSAI Web site. Different documents, standards, and other products of INTOSAI entities will be organized by subject and posted on the Web site. For each document, there will be an executive summary as well as links to the document itself and to related issues. A standard template for executive summaries was approved at the task force meeting, and the template has been sent to all relevant INTOSAI bodies, which have been asked to prepare executive summaries for their products.

Sample template for executive summaries of INTOSAI documents.
Sample template for executive summaries of INTOSAI documents.

At the task force's next meeting, scheduled for April 2009, the members will discuss planned activities related to this year's theme and the members' contributions to the topic itself. They will also consider other issues related to implementing the task force's five objectives.

See Spotlight on the Strategic Plan on p. 17 of this issue for additional discussion of INTOSAI's communications strategy, in particular the communications planning system that is being developed.

For additional information, contact the INTOSAI General Secretariat at intosai@rechnungshof.gv.at