International Journal of Government Auditing – July 2011
The INTOSAI community today finds itself in the midst of an age when innovation and developments in computer and communication technology are happening at a rapid pace. As traditional processes and systems become more dynamic, networked, and virtual, there are more opportunities to use technology to improve efficiency, increase collaboration, and reduce costs than ever before. INTOSAI and other audit organizations are already taking advantage of some of these technologies. For example, at XX INCOSAI, many of INTOSAI’s committees, subcommittees, working groups, and task forces distributed their information electronically on CDs and USB memory sticks, thereby reducing the paper used for printing and the weight of materials that attendees would have to carry on their flights to their home countries. In addition, at VIII EUROSAI this year in Lisbon, official documents were distributed solely through a Web site. Laptop computers were made available to attendees so they could access the documents during the meetings.
Another interesting example of technology is the INTOSAI Collaboration Tool—an Internet-based workbench for the INTOSAI community’s internal communications. As the SAI of India wrote in this journal last year, the INTOSAI Collaboration Tool is designed to facilitate decision-making processes between annual board meetings and the triennial congresses. Available in INTOSAI’s five official languages, this tool integrates documents, e-mail, calendars, and real-time communication tools to help INTOSAI member SAIs collaborate, communicate, and manage content. The Collaboration Tool has more than 680 users from 133 countries. More than 60 workspaces have been created for INTOSAI working groups; the INTOSAI General Secretariat; the INTOSAI Development Initiative; and the International Journal of Government Auditing.
The technologies INTOSAI is using are not limited to computers or the Internet. For example, INTOSAI’s Global Financial Crisis Task Force held two of its four meetings via teleconference. Task Force members reported that these phone conferences were an effective way to hold meetings; moreover, the teleconferences saved participants time and money by eliminating the need to travel great distances for a meeting.
INTOSAI is also rich with examples of how individual member SAIs are using new technologies. For example, a news item from the State Audit Office of Vietnam (appearing on page 8 of this issue) describes how they signed a memorandum of understanding with the SAI of Alberta, Canada, via videoconference. In addition, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is using technology in a number of ways to work more efficiently. GAO is streamlining workflow by developing appropriate electronic tools and processes. Staff have laptops and software that enable them to work securely from any remote location outside the office just as if they were in the office. Collaboration tools like videoconferencing, teleconferencing, an internal wiki, and document management software enable GAO’s staff—whether they are in the same location or not—to collaborate, while maintaining individual accountability. GAO is also using video and audio podcasts, mobile Web site technology, and social media tools, including Twitter and YouTube, to share its work more effectively.
These are just some of the ways that INTOSAI and its members are using technology to enhance collaboration, knowledge sharing, and efficient operations. As INTOSAI looks to the future and prepares for the XXI INCOSAI in Beijing, we want to ask you to share with the Journal your stories about how technology has improved your audit work or enhanced the way you participate in or manage INTOSAI initiatives. We also want to hear about those situations in which you have experienced challenges in your use of technology, especially in countries or regions where issues such as cost or infrastructure can be limitations. We believe it is an important part of the Journal’s knowledge-sharing mission to share these experiences across the INTOSAI community. By publishing your articles and case studies in future issues, we hope to inspire further innovation as well as solutions to the challenges. Please send your articles and case studies to firstname.lastname@example.org.