INTOSAI Auditing Standards Committee – April 2007

Michaela Ott-Spracklin Retires from INTOSAI General Secretariat

Participants from OLACEFS SAIs who took part in the environmental auditing course in Brazil.
Michaela Ott-Spracklin

Michaela Ott-Spracklin has retired from the INTOSAI General Secretariat/Austrian Court of Audit. Ms. Ott-Spracklin joined the Gen­eral Secretariat in 1985 and served under three different secretaries general. Over the course of her distinguished career, she was instrumental in assisting with many events, including 13 UN/INTOSAI Seminars, 12 INTOSAI Governing Board meetings, 5 CAROSAI congresses, 3 ARABOSAI congresses, 1 AFROSAI congress, and 1 INTOSAI congress in Ber­lin. Ms. Ott-Spracklin also proofread more than 100 German-language issues of the Journal. The Journal staff, who know she will be missed by her colleagues around the world, wish her well in her retirement.  

Alberta Ellison Retires from U.S. GAO

Participants from OLACEFS SAIs who took part in the environmental auditing course in Brazil.
Alberta Ellison

Alberta Ellison has retired from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) after a distinguished 37-year career with the U.S. government. Mrs. Ellison was associated with GAO’s International Auditor Fellowship Program from its founding in 1979 and later assumed the role of program manager. The fellows widely recognized her as a patient and dedicated friend who helped make their stays in the United States more comfortable and meaningful.

Mrs. Ellison was also associated with this Journal and was named assistant editor in 2003. Her strong commitment to the Journal was apparent to all who worked with her. During her career, Mrs. Ellison represented the Journal at the Commonwealth of Audi­tors General Conferences and also had the opportunity to attend numerous INTOSAI regional meetings, such as the AFROSAI congress in Burkina Faso and a SPASAI congress in Fiji.Mrs. Ellison will be missed by her friends and colleagues at GAO and around the world, who join with Journal staff in wishing her well in her retirement. Those wishing to contact Mrs. Ellison can do so through this Journal

Financial Audit Guidelines Subcommittee

New Practice Notes

Over the past few months, the Financial Audit Guidelines Subcommittee (FAS) has drafted practice notes on risk standards, special reports and summarized financial statements, communication, and quality control standards. Exposure drafts of all these practice notes have been posted on the FAS Web site, and all SAIs are encouraged to comment on them. Comments from court system SAIs are especially welcome. The FAS hopes to have 12 practice notes ready for endorsement by INCOSAI in Novem­ber 2007.

To speed up the practice note process, a “SWAT team” was formed and worked inten­sively for a week on a group of practice notes. The team—comprising experts from the United States, Canada, Norway, and Sweden—met in Stockholm in December 2006. This method proved to be very successful and will be used to work on other practice notes in the future.

Subcommittee Meetings

After the last issue of the Journal, the FAS held a telephone conference to discuss the abovementioned draft practice notes. During the conference call, the FAS and the INTOSAI representative to the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) Consultative Advisory Group discussed and agreed upon input to be given on the IAASB’s suggested strategic priorities. Two additional telephone conferences were held in February and March.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada will host the next face-to-face meeting in Ottawa in June. Another meeting is scheduled in Stockholm in late August.

Call for New Nominations to the FAS Reference Panel

Nomination letters have been sent to all SAIs with a call for new nominations of ex­perts to the FAS reference panel. A special request has been sent to courts, as the FAS is in urgent need of input from court of account SAIs to back up the excellent contri­butions of the SAI of Brazil.

For additional information, contact the FAS Project Secretariat:

Fax: ++46-8-5171 4111
Web site:


Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards

The State Audit Institution of the Sultanate of Oman generously hosted a meeting of the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards in Muscat on January 14-17, 2007. The meeting was chaired by Franki Vanstapel, Senior President of the Belgian Court of Audit, and drew 25 delegates from 12 member SAIs.

Members of the Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards at its meeting in Oman in January 2007
Members of the Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards at its meeting in Oman in January 2007.

The meeting began with a review of the results of the combined questionnaire on internal control tools and aspects of good governance that the subcommittee had sent to INTOSAI members. The survey results indicated that INTOSAI was in need of internal control tools; it also identified ongoing needs in the field of good governance. Participants debated the best approach to take to meet these needs and agreed that it would be better to make existing materials available to all interested SAIs and public managers than to develop INTOSAI-specific internal control tools and guidance on good governance. The members formally recorded the activities and decisions the PSC had implemented and confirmed its new dual approach for the subcommittee: (1) using and building on standards issued by other standard-setting bodies to the maxi­mum extent possible and (2) developing complementary guidance where there is a special need or a pressing concern in the SAI environment. Members felt that this ap­proach would lead to more efficiency within INTOSAI and clarify how internationally accepted standards are to be used. To this end, participants recommended that infor­mation on internal controls and guidance on good governance be posted to the PSC Web site to give SAIs and public managers electronic access to existing materials.

During the meeting, members also approved a draft collaboration agreement con­cluded with the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). They agreed that this collabora­tion agreement was in line with the PSC’s stated policy of using the expertise of other standard-setting organizations wherever possible. This agreement supports goal 1 of INTOSAI’s strategic plan by developing partnerships with other standard-setting organizations.

The members also reviewed a draft on further information on entity risk management. The draft informs INTOSAI members about new developments in the field of internal control.

Finally, the marketing of INTOSAI’s guidelines for internal control standards for the public sector was discussed. Subcommittee members had already taken several actions to distribute the guidelines in their countries. The guidelines have been translated into national languages and initiatives have been undertaken to introduce them to public managers and auditors. The members agreed that INTOSAI should develop a plan for the implementation and the dissemination of its standards and guidelines, and the chair said he would bring up this matter with the PSC.

For additional information, contact the Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards chair:

Fax: ++32 (2) 551 86 22


Working Group on Environmental Auditing

WGEA Steering Committee Meeting

The Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa hosted the sixth steering committee meeting (SC6) of the Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11–14, 2007. SC6 was a pivotal meeting during which the following key agenda items were covered:

Final review and approval of four guidance papers. Steering committee members gave final comments and approval to the project leaders of the following guidance papers:

  • Auditing biodiversity: Guidance for SAIs (Brazil and Canada);
  • Cooperation between SAIs: Tips and examples for cooperative audits 
    (the Netherlands and Poland);
  • Evolution and trends in environmental auditing (Canada); and
  • The World Summit on Sustainable Development: An audit guide for SAIs (United Kingdom).  

The papers were circulated to all WGEA members for review and approval at the beginning of March. WGEA members had 4 weeks (until April 4) to comment on and approve the papers. The ballot process for approval gave members the option to approve as is, approve subject to some comments, or not approve. The papers are to be amended one last time and will be presented at the WGEA assembly meeting (WGEA11) in Arusha, Tanzania, in June 2007 and subsequently at the XIX INCOSAI in Mexico in November 2007.

Development of a long-term vision and action plan for the WGEA. During SC6, important discussions concerning the future of the WGEA took place in relation to the following three areas:

  • Visioning. Steering committee members began to develop a collective vision for the WGEA in 2015 (Vision 2015) focusing on common goals and objectives and emphasizing professionalism, capacity building, information sharing, regional coordination, and increasing the impact of environmental audits. 
  • Action planning. Working with Vision 2015, steering committee members identified concrete projects and activities to be included in the 2008–2010 WGEA work plan.
  • Future functioning of the WGEA. Steering committee members also exchanged views regarding organizational and governance matters related to the WGEA, including the respective roles and responsibilities of the assembly and steering committee, the desired composition of the steering committee, the desired role of regional coordinators, and the nature and frequency of meetings.

The 2008-2010 work plan (and supporting vision) will be finalized at the upcom­ing meeting in Tanzania. At the end of that meeting, it will be important for WGEA members to agree on the project ideas and for the project leaders, coleaders, and sub­committee members to be committed to carrying out the work plan.

WGEA Meeting in Tanzania

Preparations are well under way for the next meeting of the WGEA, which will be held in Arusha, Tanzania, during the week of June 25, 2007. This is a high-priority event for SAIs interested in environmental auditing. The steering committee approved the agenda, which will feature presentations by renowned external speakers, workshop ses­sions on environmental audits conducted by SAIs, small group discussions, and tutorials on various WGEA guidance documents. The steering committee discussed ways to create a new generation of activities while keeping the momentum, a sense of engagement, and participation and interest during the meeting. SAIs interested in attending should contact Anne Charron at The WGEA hopes to see you in Arusha!

For additional information, contact the WGEA:

Web site:

New INTOSAI Web Sites

The INTOSAI community has launched several new Web sites in the past few months.

The first was the new INTOSAI Web site, which is aligned with the INTOSAI stra­tegic plan. Visitors to the site can search for materials under the plan’s four goals and find copies of INTOSAI circulars and much more useful information.

For additional information, contact INTOSAI:

Fax: ++43 (1) 718 09 69
Web site:

The INTOSAI Public Debt Committee (PDC) also recently unveiled a new Web site. The site offers relevant information on the PDC’s products, activities, and projects. It is also a vehicle to enhance communication among PDC members.

For additional information, contact the PDC:

Fax: ++52 (555) 534 18 91
Web site:

On January 23, 2007, the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) launched its new Web site, which includes information about IDI, past and upcoming events, publica­tions, news, and more. It also serves as a useful portal offering different types of links to other Web sites. For example, it includes links to organizations related to environ-mental auditing, performance auditing, and combating fraud and corruption. The site is available in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

For additional information, contact IDI:

Fax: + 47 21 54 08 50
Web site: