International Journal of Government Auditing – April 2012
On December 22, 2011, the 66th United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted Resolution A/66/209, “Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions.” The adoption of this resolution is the crowning achievement of the united efforts of all SAIs to strengthen their independence and secure recognition of the Lima and Mexico declarations. This success was possible only because the members of the INTOSAI community have established the necessary prerequisites in their fields of competence and have thereby given content and credibility to the INTOSAI motto, Mutual Experience Benefits All.
The UN resolution represents a milestone in the nearly 60-year history of INTOSAI. In it, the General Assembly expressly recognizes for the first time that SAIs
In the resolution, the UN Member States note their appreciation of INTOSAI’s work in promoting greater efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, transparency, and the efficient and effective receipt and use of public resources for the benefit of citizens. The resolution also expresses appreciation for the Mexico and Lima declarations and encourages member states to apply, in a manner consistent with their national institutional structures, the principles set out in those declarations. Finally, the resolution encourages member states and relevant UN institutions to intensify their cooperation with INTOSAI in capacity building and other areas to promote good governance by ensuring efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, and transparency through strengthened SAIs.
All SAIs now have at their disposal a UN resolution that allows them to insist that the basic principles of independence be applied. The General Assembly’s encouragement to all UN member states to apply the principles set out in the Lima and Mexico declarations will undoubtedly increase the determination of all SAIs, in particular those still struggling to achieve the basic elements of their independence.
To underscore the importance of this resolution and assist all INTOSAI members in achieving the principles of independence, the INTOSAI Secretariat drafted a communication to all its members explaining the resolution’s content, advantages, and achievements. This communication was signed by the INTOSAI Chairman of the Board and Secretary General as well as the Chairman and Secretary General of each INTOSAI regional working group to underline the global importance and acceptance of the resolution. The Secretary General has contacted all seven regional working groups in this regard.
Furthermore, a sample letter was drafted that SAIs can send to their respective legislative bodies to raise awareness of this resolution. The INTOSAI folder “Acting Jointly for Independent Supreme Audit Institutions” has been modified to include the full text of the resolution.
Buoyed by a UN resolution underlining the importance of applying the basic principles of SAI independence, member SAIs around the world should thus be in a position to advocate for that independence with their Parliaments or legislative bodies.
For additional information, contact the INTOSAI Secretariat, email@example.com.
As part of its efforts and commitment to strengthen communication, consultation, and transparency, the leadership of the Steering Committee (SC) of the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation organized a teleconference for INTOSAI members of the SC on January 19, 2012.
Representatives from 12 INTOSAI SC members from around the world took part in the teleconference, which provided an update on progress since the SC’s third meeting in Washington, D.C., in July 2011 and facilitated preparations for the fourth SC Meeting, which was hosted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in February 2012.
During the teleconference, the INTOSAI Chair and Vice Chair of the SC highlighted progress in key areas of the cooperation, including efforts to establish a pooled fund for SAI capacity development; the launch of a databank on SAI capacity development projects (available at www.saidevelopment.org); the Global Call for Proposals for capacity-development projects in need of additional support; the work to map, and possibly develop, a single performance measurement framework for SAIs; and activities targeting enhanced communication on the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation.
Information was also provided on planned initiatives to strengthen SAI capacity development, to be taken forward under the leadership of the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee. Furthermore, the INTOSAI Chair provided an overview of INTOSAI participation in the fourth high-level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, in late 2011. The Chair of the INTOSAI Professional Standards Committee presented the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) rollout model that was approved at the last INTOSAI Governing Board Meeting. The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session open to all participants.
The teleconference proved to be very productive, and the initiative was highly appreciated by all participants.
For additional information, contact the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On November 15, 2011, the task coordinators of the INTOSAI Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards held a working meeting in Warsaw, Poland. The meeting was organized by the Supreme Audit Office of Poland (NIK), the Subcommittee Chair. In addition to the task coordinators, other persons attending the meeting included a representative of the former Subcommittee Chair, the SAI of Belgium; a representative of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), an observer to the subcommittee; and several SAIs interested in the action plan’s active implementation.
When the subcommittee adopted its action plan in spring 2011, volunteer coordinators were appointed for each of its tasks. The main objective of the November meeting was to discuss the implementation of the action plan tasks. The participants reviewed each task separately and made decisions on the next steps to take. As a result, the action plan was amended slightly, and the latest version was distributed among all the subcommittee members at the beginning of 2012.
The participants also discussed the decisions related to their subcommittee that had been made at the 62nd INTOSAI Governing Board meeting several weeks earlier. One of the most important of these was the nomination of Jacek Jezierski, the Subcommittee Chairman and President of the SAI of Poland, to represent INTOSAI to the IIA’s International Internal Audit Standards Board. This nomination was based on the memorandum of understanding signed between the IIA and the INTOSAI Professional Standards Committee in 2007 and renewed in 2010.
The subcommittee’s current work includes the development of two surveys—one on internal control reporting and another on risk management in the public sector—which are to be ready by the subcommittee’s next meeting and will provide the basis for elaborating subcommittee documents on those topics. The participants in the meeting also discussed the development of the subcommittee’s e-platform, the issue of its permanent hosting, and the extension of the best practices portfolio in internal control with examples collected from subcommittee members.
The next meeting for all members of the subcommittee will be in Warsaw, April 24–25, 2012, hosted by the SAI of Poland.
For additional information, contact the SAI of Poland:
One of the goals of the Capacity Building Committee’s Subcommittee 3, which promotes best practices and quality assurance by voluntary peer reviews, is to foster an environment where SAIs are aware of the potential benefits of such reviews. To promote this goal, the subcommittee sent a letter highlighting the usefulness of voluntary peer reviews to the general secretariats of INTOSAI’s regional working groups in February 2012 and asked them to share this information with their members.
The subcommittee prepared a flyer presenting the peer review tool, underlining its merits, and explaining the reasons an SAI might be motivated to conduct a peer review. The flyer also describes the Peer Review Guide and Checklist, which were adopted by the XX INCOSAI as ISSAI 5600, and the peer review documentation on the Capacity Building Committee’s website (cbc.courdescomptes.ma/index.php?id=20). To reinforce the subcommittee’s message, a number of SAI presidents and auditors general who have participated in peer reviews gave enthusiastic remarks on the value and benefits of this tool.
Both the quotations and the flyer will be published on the Capacity Building Committee’s website.
For more information, please contact the subcommittee at email@example.com.
INTOSAI’s Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) is continuing to work toward promoting the importance and role of SAIs in the international environmental governance and sustainable development framework at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), scheduled for June 20–22, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In close cooperation with the General Secretariat of INTOSAI, the WGEA has submitted an official contribution paper, which has been published on the conference’s official webpage: www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=510&nr=228&menu=20
A special WGEA project group, led by the SAIs of Brazil and Canada, has also prepared a paper on the stance of SAIs towards the topics in the Rio+20 agenda, based in part on the survey responses collected from INTOSAI members in the latter half of 2011. The WGEA Secretariat has attended the preparatory meetings for the conference and continues to work toward representing the community of public sector audit institutions at the conference.
The United Nations Environment Program has invited the WGEA to contribute to the World Congress on Justice, Governance, and Law for Environmental Sustainability, an event to be held prior to the Rio+20 conference, June 18–19, 2012. This congress will bring together important stakeholders, such as auditors general, attorneys general, and public prosecutors, who are positioned to develop, interpret, and enforce environmental law and tackle governance and accountability issues to reach the goals of sustainable development. The congress is expected to provide input to the Rio+20 conference with a Statement of Principles on Justice, Governance, and Law for Environmental Sustainability. The statement will be issued and presented to the President of the conference, heads of state, and other high-level representatives.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for further information.
The Working Group on Accountability for and Audit of Disaster-Related Aid (WG AADA) held its 5th meeting October 23–24, 2011, in Antalya, Turkey. The devastating earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on the day preceding the meeting brought home to the 40 delegates the importance of humanitarian relief aid and the need to improve accountability and audit to ensure that maximum assistance arrives on time to save lives.
At this meeting, chaired by Gijs de Vries, Member of the European Court of Auditors, delegates reviewed progress on various tasks in the 2011–2013 work program. Other participants included guest speakers from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), and Ernst & Young, and Lyn Provost, the Controller and Auditor General of New Zealand.
Now well into its second mandate, the WG AADA is working on a number of guidance and best practice initiatives and materials:
The Indonesian SAI will host the next meeting of the WG AADA June 4–5, 2012. The agenda for that meeting will include reports on (1) progress on surveys, questionnaires, and coordinated and parallel audits and (2) testing and promotion of the IFAF proposal and draft guidance. Guest speakers from international organizations will present and discuss issues surrounding disaster-related aid.
During 2012 and 2013, draft guidance will be made available to selected SAIs for comment and review. The final documents and report of the WG AADA will be presented to the XXI INCOSAI in 2013.
For additional information contact the secretariat of the WG AADA at the European Court of Auditors:
The first meeting of the Task Force on Financial Foresight was held in Oslo, Norway, February 1–3, 2012. The INTOSAI Finance and Administration Committee (FAC) established this new task force at its seventh meeting in Washington, D.C., in July 2011 to analyze and make recommendations about three challenges facing INTOSAI:
The FAC resolved that the task force would be chaired by the Auditor General of Norway. The Chair of the FAC and the INTOSAI General Secretariat developed terms of reference for the task force that were approved by FAC members and presented to the Governing Board.
The task force membership comprises the FAC committee members (representatives of the SAIs of Austria, China, Ecuador, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the United States) as well as the chairs of goals 1, 2, and 3 (Denmark, Morocco, and India) of the strategic plan, and the INTOSAI Director of Strategic Planning. The Auditor General of South Africa, in his capacity as Chairman of the INTOSAI Governing Board and a future member of the FAC starting in 2013, has also nominated a member of his SAI to the task force.
The purpose of the initial task force meeting in Oslo was to
At its next meeting in June 2012, the task force will take important steps to
Because the task force is dealing with issues that will affect how INTOSAI operates in the future, its work should be of interest to all INTOSAI members. The Office of the Auditor General of Norway is working to determine the best way for all INTOSAI members to follow and comment on the task force’s work. It hopes to launch a website for the task force to which all INTOSAI members could have access. In the interim, for further information or answers to questions regarding the task force, please contact Ola Hoem at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twenty parliamentarians and 16 auditors general from the Caribbean met in Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, January 29–30, 2012, for a workshop on strengthening parliamentary oversight in the region.
The workshop was sponsored by ParlAmericas, an independent network comprising national legislatures of 35 states from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean and cosponsored by the World Bank and the Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation. The meeting provided a forum to examine issues relevant to the effectiveness of Public Accounts Committees (PAC) in the region.
The participants discussed the challenges facing PACs, especially those of small legislatures. These challenges include infrequent committee meetings, a need for research staff, difficulties forming forums when one political party dominates the Parliament, the appropriateness of having sitting ministers of government on committees, and the need to strengthen the office of the auditor general. The participants also examined ways to increase collaboration between the office of the auditor general and parliament.
The participants recognized that the small size of some Parliaments in the region presented special challenges in finding the critical mass of persons available to sit on committees. The highly politicized nature of some societies was seen as impairing the core functioning of some committees, as issues are viewed strictly in terms of party politics. During the workshop, Parlimentarians were informed of the workings of other PACs in the region and internationally and, as a result, felt that they would be in a better position to contribute more effectively to PACs in their respective jurisdictions.
Auditors general posited the view that their offices were adversely affected by their inability to directly recruit staff, offer competitive salary packages, and directly control the financial resources approved by Parliament. As a result, trained staff leave the offices to take up opportunities elsewhere, and the offices’ independence is compromised by their need to rely on agencies they audit for resources.
Both parliamentarians and auditors general were very positive about the exchanges they had over the course of the meeting and felt it was a timely intervention. Participants believed that much could be gained by auditors general and members of Parliament meeting again to discuss additional issues and seek solutions for the problems identified.
Immediately following the ParlAmericas meeting, a regional meeting was held for all CAROSAI members during the second part of the week. CAROSAI welcomed Charmain Felter, the new President of the SAI of Suriname, as well as Dorothy Bradley and Alastair Swarbrick, the newly appointed Auditors General of Belize and the Cayman Islands, respectively. Ms. Bradley was introduced as the new CAROSAI Chairman, and Sint Maarten was voted into the CAROSAI fold.
As a region, CAROSAI is realigning itself to address 21st century challenges head on. To this end, a number of initiatives are under way in the region. The meeting focused on a CAROSAI project funded by the World Bank and gave all members opportunity to shape the outputs. The National Audit Office of the United Kingdom (UK NAO) facilitated lively sessions on SAI leadership, SAI change management, and cash-based International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) implementation. The UK NAO also sought members’ views on legislation, parliamentary relationships, situation analysis, and roadmaps by means of a risk-management approach and frameworks for regional effectiveness and knowledge sharing.
The Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation informed members of its approach and work in the region. The World Bank offered valuable insights into sustainability beyond the project’s life cycle. This rounded off the week constructively, ensuring that all participants now look fowarward to successful implementation in the future.
For additional information, contact the CAROSAI General Secretariat at email@example.com.
At the VIII EUROSAI Congress held in Lisbon, Portugal, May 30–June 2, 2011, the first-ever EUROSAI Strategic Plan, covering the years 2011–2017, was approved. The plan identifies four strategic goals that EUROSAI aims to achieve within this 6-year period:
A team has been appointed to carry out each of the goals, and each team has quickly begun its work. The implementation of the strategic plan is the main objective of the SAI of Portugal (Tribunal de Contas), which has assumed the EUROSAI presidency for 2011–2014. The Portuguese SAI chairs goal team 4 and is conscious of its specific role and responsibility in establishing proper governance tools to facilitate the successful launch of the other goal teams’ activities. Therefore, in the few months since it began its work, goal team 4 has made significant progress towards a governance and communication framework for EUROSAI.
The main documents that frame the activity of the four goal teams—Planning, Monitoring, and Reporting Requirements and also Terms of Reference and Operational Plans for each team—have been prepared and will be submitted for approval at the next meeting of the EUROSAI Governing Board in Ankara, Turkey, on May 28, 2012.
One of the key activities entrusted to goal team 4 is the review of the EUROSAI website. This task is being carried out through a two-step process: