These challenging, uncertain times caused by the pandemic have made communication and collaboration more important than ever.
by Mr. Seyit Ahmet Baş, President of the Turkish Court of Accounts and President of the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions
The Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA), which has a tradition dating back more than a thousand years, celebrated its 158th Anniversary this year with a heavy heart as the entire world lives under the shadow of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The pandemic created a “new normal” forcing Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) and governments alike to pioneer inventive ways to operate—the TCA has successfully adapted to this new environment by harnessing the power of communication, collaboration and innovation.
Recognizing good stakeholder communication can help achieve organizational strategic goals and contribute to an effective, transparent and accountable public financial management system, the TCA recently implemented a new communication strategy with a vision toward more proactive approaches.
The strategy began as a project within the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Development Initiative SAI Young Leaders program and was further advanced with strong backing from the TCA Presidency by analyzing internal and external environments and deploying a participatory approach that considered stakeholder expectations and contributions.
This led to a fully-developed strategy that incorporates more responsive and robust stakeholder engagement, including an increased social media presence and website with content translated into multiple foreign languages—communication platforms that have intensified in importance during this time of social distancing and remote work.
Officially implemented using a well-directed change management process, the communication strategy is expected to create greater audit impact, enhance public recognition and contribute to transparency and accountability, which in turn, will create greater stakeholder value.
In addition to communication, collaboration and cooperation remain paramount, particularly with INTOSAI and regional colleagues.
The TCA’s role as President of the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) has been extended an additional year, as the EUROSAI Congress, originally scheduled in June 2020, was postponed. Through valuable cooperation and exchanges, EUROSAI quickly adapted to continue other activities without interruption, including virtual working group meetings and e-seminars.
The EUROSAI community also united with the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) to organize a successful IX EUROSAI-OLACEFS joint conference.
Hosted by the State Audit Office of Hungary in September, the event capitalized on technology to create an innovative, interactive virtual experience, and the conference theme, “COVID-19 Pandemic: A Unique Opportunity for Supreme Audit Institutions to Highlight the Impact of Their Work,” provided a timely and relevant foundation for vivid dialogue and valuable debates among participants.
Government response efforts to address the COVID-19 Pandemic have increased oversight work. This, along with an amplified need to facilitate a geographically dispersed staff and stakeholders, led to TCA research and implementation of innovative Information Technology (IT) solutions to provide more effective communication; data security, storage, and processing; reporting; and decision-making.
Employing new IT measures has already resulted in several positive outcomes, including an ability to maintain capacity building efforts. To date, the TCA has delivered 31 distance learning courses for 565 auditors in a broad range of audit-related topics.
Even though a leading concern at the pandemic’s onset was performing TCA activities remotely, digitalization and data safeguards, such as an information security management system that quickly eliminates and mitigates risk, allowed for continued success in providing reliable, objective and timely reports.
We forged onward with the TCA 2020 Audit Plan, finishing all audit reports and preparing them for parliament on time. In the new audit period, the TCA aims to assess whether current public entity controls are effective in emergency conditions and what, if any, changes are needed.
The TCA, with a rooted audit culture and vast expertise extending over one thousand years, has helped advance auditing nationally and internationally through progressive, proactive communication, an emphasis on collaboration, and aspiration for innovation. We aim to share our knowledge and experience with future generations, and, within the framework of modern requirements, seek to go beyond the level of contemporary civilizations.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish health and peace to the world and to all SAIs.