International Journal of Government Auditing – Special INCOSAI XXII Edition
The sharing and transfer of knowledge and experience has long been a tradition of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). It has been a common understanding of the Chinese National Audit Office (CNAO) and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to foster the exchange of ideas and information and ensure INTOSAI’s work remains relevant.
Knowledge sharing is also a way to express our collective value and benefit to governments, international organizations and partners in the global accountability community. And, when it comes to the topic of big data, it was the collection of ideas and the notion of collaboration through beneficial exchanges (initiated jointly by the CNAO and GAO) that led to the establishment of INTOSAI’s newest Working Group on Big Data, approved and endorsed at INCOSAI XXII.
In his report at the 68th Governing Board meeting held December 5, 2016, at the XXII INCOSAI, Mr. Liu Jiayi spoke of achievements during his time as Chairman of the INTOSAI Governing Board, one of which was fulfilling the vision to “become a setter and promoter of international audit rules.”
With INTOSAI’s launch of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the area of big data audit and the establishment of the Working Group on Big Data designed to further advance Information Technology (IT) application, Mr. Liu expressed the fulfillment of his vision.
Big Data has provided a window for SAI auditors to examine information from its auditees, along with related data from other sources, and the INTOSAI community is expected to benefit greatly from sharing knowledge and experiences in this emerging area. The Working Group is also expected to serve as a key partner for INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) and regional capacity development programs in this field. The Working Group is proposed to be chaired by CNAO with the GAO serving the Vice Chair.
As Knowledge Sharing Committee (KSC) Chair, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India presided over the KSC Steering Committee Meeting in Mexico City, Mexico, in September 2016, where the Big Data Working Group was introduced.
Met with overwhelming support, the KSC put the proposal forward to the Governing Board and Congress, as expected, after results were tallied from the KSC’s survey on topics of mutual interest that preceded its Steering Committee Meeting.
Big Data was one of the most popular recommended topics.
Sharing knowledge and experience and collaborating with others truly leads to great things. INTOSAI continues to foster these practices, these goals among SAIs, and the CNAO and GAO agree—knowledge sharing plays a critical role in accomplishing that goal.
Knowledge sharing also ensures INTOSAI’s work remains relevant and allows for the expression of our collective value and benefit to governments, international organizations and partners in the global accountability community.
In 2012, the heads of the CNAO (Mr. Liu Jiayi) and GAO (Mr. Gene L. Dodaro) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) designed to “establish, improve and develop a framework for cooperation in national audit and promote effective interaction between the participants on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.” With the aim of leveraging CNAO and GAO expertise through regular exchanges, cooperation and coordination significant efforts have been undertaken to collaborate on innovative audit theories and practices between the two SAIs during the last five years.
The CNAO and GAO leaders agree that with the challenges faced in realizing the common vision of good governance and sustainable development, SAIs must utilize innovative audit methodologies and attach importance to the (1) implementation and performance of national strategies and policies; (2) economic and societal weaknesses and risks; (3) public fund and resource allocation and effectiveness of use; and (4) disposition and operation of public power. Moreover, to better serve national governance efforts, research on foresight and real-time auditing should be enhanced, along with accelerating audit capacity.
The partnership between CNAO and GAO has been mutually beneficial—characterized by a commitment to applying bilateral products to a broader scale. Joint international seminars have attracted senior officials and experts from various SAIs. The partnership has led to several achievements, including a strong interest to expand the Working Group on Financial Modernization and Regulatory Reform and continue efforts in the areas of foresight and big data analytics.
The multi-dimensional exchanges and cooperation between the two SAIs have demonstrated intense vitality and huge potential, which produced sound results for the benefit of SAIs, governments, citizens and partners in the global accountability community, and will facilitate the common development of all parties involved.
While there are differences in development, social, and audit systems and practices in all countries, communication, cooperation and collaboration can lead to a common understanding. The cultivation of government audit requires collective wisdom, and effective knowledge sharing is a valid means for audit efforts to remain relevant and continually evolve.
Looking ahead, the CNAO and GAO intend to:
Much like the relationship between the CNAO and GAO, the hope is for all SAIs to strengthen cooperative exchanges, thereby working to promote good governance, achieve lasting sustainable development and improve the future for the government auditing profession.
Ultimately, the goal is to fulfill the INTOSAI motto, “Mutual experience benefits all.”
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This famous quote from Aristotle particularly rings true for the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
As we embrace the strategic goals of INTOSAI’s Strategic Plan and further reflect on the themes of INCOSAI XXII related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Professionalization, so, too, must we use what we learn, what we experience to increase our power as an organization, to reach optimum efficiency...to develop the capacity of INTOSAI.
Einar Gørrisen, Director General, INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), believes that for successful capacity development, INTOSAI and its members must nurture the people, the organization and the institution.
“The Each one of us, each
institution in the world
can benefit a lot today
through through sharing knowledge
and experience, and communicating
with other SAIs and bodies that provide
—Dr. Hussam Al Angari, President, General Auditing Bureau, Saudi Arabia
It is the institutional growth that distinguishes capacity development from capacity building. Capacity building, traditionally, centers on people and the organization. Capacity development incorporates professional people and organizational growth with the concept of institutional capacity, which Gørrissen admits can be a hard thing to define.
“It’s [institutional capacity] the ability of the organization to deal with the stakeholders. It’s also about taking opportunities. It’s about positioning the SAI in the context and the culture of the society, so they can actually make a difference,” he said.
Gørrissen went on to add, “For me, the success of INTOSAI is really mirrored in the success of SAIs. If INTOSAI and the INTOSAI regions and IDI are successful, that should really result in SAIs that are stronger, more independent, can produce better audits, more timely audits, and ultimately deliver more value to all citizens.
“We don’t exist to exist. We exist for the SAIs,” Gørrisen affirmed.
Dr. Harry Azhar Azis, Chairman of the Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia and Chairman of the Working Group on Environmental Auditing, agreed, indicating the goal, ultimately, is for SAIs to add value. Azis offered a number of items that will spell success for the future of INTOSAI, acknowledging the importance of the themes discussed at INCOSAI XXII, as well as coming together in ways that are both productive and meaningful.
With the adoption of the SAI Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) at INCOSAI XXII, there is now a framework for measuring performance against International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs) along with other established international good practices. The framework, developed by the INTOSAI Working Group on the Value and Benefits of SAIs (WGVBS), was implemented in partnership with INTOSAI bodies, including a number of SAIs that piloted the framework from 2013-2015.The INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation supplied financial support for its development and global roll-out.
“Unless we get our message across
effectively, we are producing very nice
paper weights in the process. No audit
report should get tabled if it’s not going to
lead to change. We have to make an impact.
That’s our job!”
AFROSAI-E Communication Manager
The SAI PMF implementation strategy was also approved at INCOSAI XXII. The plan clearly vests ownership and its implementation in the hands of INTOSAI and places the Capacity Building Committee (CBC) and IDI as the INTOSAI strategic governance and operation leads for support respectively.
Kimi Makwetu, SAI South Africa Auditor General and Chairman of the Capacity Building Committee, believes capacity building is at the heart of success, including “properly trained, well-experienced members of staff; good, strong leadership that’s ethical, as well as governments that recognize the value of our institutions that operate independently.”
Using the SAI PMF is a good start. Learn more about it here.
Annerie Pretorious, Communication Manager for AFROSAI-E, indicates communicating is also a crucial component to SAI success.
She admits communication can sometimes be an obstacle
and when it comes to communication, there is “definitely
room for improvement, and it’s not necessarily something
that comes naturally to the audit methodology process.”
“The message we’re trying to get across, and I’m trying
to get across, is that unless we get our message across
effectively, we are producing very nice paper weights in
the process. No audit report should get tabled if it’s not going to lead to change. We have to make an impact. That’s our job!” Pretorious noted.
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) agreed on the Abu Dhabi Declaration at the XXII INCOSAI in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The XXII INCOSAI builds on INTOSAI’s past achievements and initiatives, which aim at enabling SAIs to help their respective governments to improve performance, enhance transparency, ensure accountability and fight corruption.
The declaration establishes key Congress outcomes and how they will guide INTOSAI in the future. The Abu Dhabi Declaration was developed within the following context:
INTOSAI intends to continue to provide a global public voice, as anchored in its Strategic Plan as the organization becomes more prominent and external facing.
The Abu Dhabi Congress echoed the Strategic Plan in the significance of making a meaningful independent audit contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with extensive plans and specific efforts towards this goal in the coming years, such as regular and engaging with key stakeholders to follow through on its ambitions.
Citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of public auditing and have expectation for professionalism. It is the SAIs duty to perform the highest quality audits and provide citizens with reports that support transparency, good accountability and trust in government. Making a decisive contribution to improving professionalization requires a commitment from all parts of INTOSAI to grow the professional support available to all SAIs and their staff, thereby enabling them to deliver timely, relevant high-quality products.
Efforts to enhance INTOSAI’s standard setting and achieve professionalization at the global, regional, and indivdual SAI levels described in the declaration, along with the SAI Performance Measurement Framework (SAI PMF), a comprehensive tool approved at the Congress for assessing progress towards improved SAI performance.
The Governing Board, with the assistance of the Standing Committee on Emerging Issues (SCEI), the four key Committees and the General Secretariat, plays a fundamental role in monitoring progress in achieving the strategic plan, and following up as necessary. The SCEI will monitor INTOSAI’s crosscutting priorities to ensure that they are being consistently and thoroughly integrated into INTOSAI’s various strategies and programs under its strategic goals.
An accountability report will be provided at XXIII INCOSAI in 2019 on the activities undertaken and the extent to which INTOSAI is fulfilling the intention and spirit of the cross-cutting priorities, goals and objectives established in the strategic plan.
Read the Abu Dhabi declaration in its entirety here.
The Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation will host the XXIII INTOSAI Congress, the largest international forum for the audit community, in 2019, in Moscow, Russia.
The decision to approve the Russian Supreme Audit Institution as a host for the next Congress meeting was adopted unanimously by the participants of the XXII INCOSAI in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In her speech at INCOSAI XXII, Tatiana Golikova, Chairwoman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, thanked participants for supporting Russia’s candidacy to be the hosting country for the XXIII INCOSAI. She noted that the accumulated experience of the Russian Supreme Audit Institution in organizing major international events leaves no doubt about the success of the XXIII INTOSAI Congress in Moscow.
“For us it is not only a great honor, it is
also a huge responsibility.”
Chairwoman, Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation