International Journal of Government Auditing – Special INCOSAI XXII Edition
At INCOSAI XXII in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, a large professional exhibition area was designed to give Congress participants the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences through networking, special events, presentations, as well as in-depth discussions, both formal and informal. Numerous INTOSAI bodies, regional organizations and other affiliated groups were represented at booth spaces throughout the week-long event.
From left to right below: African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions-East (AFROSAI-E); Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI);
From left to right below: International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) General Secretariat; Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI); and the African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI).
The U.S. Comptroller General, Mr. Gene L. Dodaro, hosted past graduates at a special reception held for GAO’s International Auditor Fellowship Program during the INCOSAI XXII in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
A special tribute was given to former Saudi General Auditing Bureau President, Dr. Osama Jafar Faquih, during the opening ceremony at INCOSAI XXII in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
From left to right: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); Pacific Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI); Working Group on Extractive Industries (WGEI); Russian Federation delegates visit the International Journal of Government Auditing booth; and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).
INTOSAI General Secretary and delegation take time for a photo prior to the opening night ceremony at INCOSAI XXII.
The ISSAI 30 team, led by SAI Poland, wore custom made t-shirts to help spread the word about the new ethics standard endorsed and approved at INCOSAI!
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) presented two awards at the XXII Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Named after those they honor—the Jörg Kandutsch Award and the Elmer B. Staats Award—recognize outstanding accomplishments by a Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) and individual achievement through contributions to the International Journal of Government Auditing.
Dr. Margit Kraker, INTOSAI Secretary General, presented the 2016 Kandutsch Award to Lone Strøm (pictured top left), who accepted the award on behalf of SAI Denmark this year for exemplary and sustained leadership. Since 2004, SAI Denmark has acted as Chair of the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) and has been recognized as INTOSAI’s “standard-setting body.” Through numerous efforts over the years, SAI Denmark has made a significant contribution to the professionalization of INTOSAI.
The Staats Award, established 34 years ago, is presented at each INTOSAI Congress to the author of the best article published by the Journal over the previous three calendar years.
Gene L. Dodaro, United States Comptroller General, presented the Staats Award to Chandra Kanta Bhandari (pictured bottom left) from the Office of the Auditor General of Nepal. Bhandari’s article, “Engaging Civil Service Organizations in SAI Audit,” was featured in the April 2014 Journal issue and, according to Dodaro, Bhandari’s words “speak volumes to who we are and what we do as auditing professionals.”
Dodaro quoted from the winning article, “Acting in the public interest places a great responsibility on SAIs to demonstrate their ongoing relevance to citizens. Unless SAIs add value and provide benefits to citizens, their ongoing relevance cannot be demonstrated.”
Chandra Kanta Bhandari from the Office of the Auditor General of Nepal was presented with the Elmer B. Staats award at INCOSAI XXII. He sat down with the INTOSAI Journal after receiving the award for an exclusive interview on how Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) continuing Civil Service Organization (CSO) engagement will lead INTOSAI toward future success, providing perspectives on the relevance of his winning Journal article, “Engaging Civil Service Organizations in SAI Audit.”
Q: What do you see as the future of CSOs and SAIs?
A: CSOs represent the communities at the local level. They have first-hand information as to government programs at the citizen level, which will be very significant for SAIs to plan their audits and conduct audits accordingly. If we can engage them, then we can get better information.
CSOs can also create pressure to make improvements in public service delivery based on audit results of SAI reports. At present, there is a growing demand of open and responsive government. In these contexts, SAIs can play leading roles by engaging CSOs or stakeholders to strengthen public transparency, accountability and integrity, which will ultimately contribute to making a difference in the lives of citizens.
Q: What would make the relationship between CSOs and SAIs more successful?
A:More interaction, discussion and sharing information. That will help. CSOs have to show their relevance to the local people. Both CSOs and SAIs have accountability to the citizens—so that we can achieve the final agenda. If we don’t work in public interest, in the interest of the citizens, we cannot show our relevance and there is a risk of losing public trust and becoming obsolete over time. Working together is key!
Our fundamental objective is to demonstrate accountability, transparency and integrity in the public sector so that the citizens can get benefits from the government programs and policies.
Q:What are some factors than can impact success?
A: Some countries may face governance or other challenges, such as lack of resources, despite efforts to benefit the citizens. Then there are those situations where corruption is prevalent. It is very difficult to work in these contexts. SAIs have an important role to play. We can see it two ways. In a weak environment, the SAI has to deeply engage, focusing heavily on the internal controls aspects as well as the pertinent issues in conducting its audit, and not lose sight of its objectives. On the other hand, in a stronger environment as evident by a system of internal control, SAIs may concentrate on performance audits, which will provide new knowledge, new insights and will add value to improve public service delivery for the benefit of citizens.
The best thing for SAIs to do is to try to find the right balance in going about their work. In engaging CSOs or stakeholders at different processes of audit, SAIs may better promote transparency and accountability and more effectively carry out their constitutional responsibilities.
To use the analogy of a football game, where the SAI is the goalkeeper, it would be very difficult for the SAI to protect the goal when all the other team members are weak. Our focus should be at strengthening the capability of all the players to win the game.
Technology has transformed peoples’ lives—social relations and interactions with companies and governments worldwide. Public agencies must understand this new reality and act accordingly to provide services and policies that adhere to the channels and relationship patterns of the digital age.
The same challenge applies to Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), which must now modernize practices and engagement. In countries with well-developed e-government initiatives, SAIs must be able to monitor, understand and evaluate these public sector transformations. In countries that are still progressing, SAIs have an opportunity to induce change, lead by example and demand rapid responses from the government that are in line with societal demands.
This scenario inspired Minister Aroldo Cedraz and a team of auditors from the Federal Court of Accounts of Brazil (TCU) to write the book “Control of Public Administration in the Digital Age,” unveiled at INCOSAI XXII.
In a series of well-connected essays, the authors describe changes to the public sector brought about by this technological revolution, along with the opportunities and challenges that such changes impose on those responsible for government audit.
The book presents an evolutionary landscape of public administration in the last few decades, followed by a description of the characteristics and changes related to the digital revolution. The book also discussed the resulting impact these transformations have made on areas all-too familiar to the INTOSAI community: public governance, performance and compliance audits, as well as the fight against corruption.
Based on actual case studies that center on innovative practices adopted by TCU as part of their organizational journey towards digitization, the book includes TCU’s creation of an innovation lab; development of an audit analytics strategy; establishment of a “civic cloud” as a new platform to foster civic apps creation; and several mobile apps that bring TCU closer to society.
It is truly a unique glimpse into a desirable future for the public audit field—capable of driving enhanced government accountability and effectiveness, reduced bureaucracy and corruption, which, in turn, lead to improved economic development in a new digital ecosystem.
The original Portuguese version was translated to English, with a special foreword by the new INTOSAI Governing Board Chair, Dr. Harib Al Amimi. A Spanish edition has also been produced, which is prefaced by Dr. Juan M. Portal, Auditor General of the SAI of Mexico. The work offers a great depth of knowledge and experience for the entire international community and will hopefully provide the basis for discussions around these sweeping changes in public audit...and how SAIs can best adapt.