Inside INTOSAI

International Journal of Government Auditing – April 2012

UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution Strengthening SAI Independence

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.

UN Resolution

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

  • can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence and
  • have an important role in promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, and transparency of public administration that is conducive to achieving national development objectives and priorities as well as internationally agreed-upon development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.

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.

Follow-up Steps

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, intosai@rechnungshof.gv.at.



Text of UN Resolution A/66/209 concerning the independence of SAIs.

Resolution Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions

The General Assembly,

Recalling Economic and Social Council Resolution 2011/2 of 26 April 2011,

Recalling also its Resolutions 59/55 of 2 December 2004 and 60/34 of 30 November 2005 and its previous Resolutions on public administration and development,

Recalling further the United Nations Millennium Declaration,

Emphasizing the need to improve the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration,

Emphasizing also that efficient, accountable, effective and transparent public administration has a key role to play in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals,

Stressing the need for capacity-building as a tool to promote development and welcoming the cooperation of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions with the United Nations in this regard,

1. Recognizes that Supreme Audit Institutions can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence;

2. Also recognizes the important role of Supreme Audit Institutions in promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration, which is conducive to the achievement of national development objectives and priorities as well as the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals;

3. Takes note with appreciation of the work of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions in promoting greater efficiency, accountability, effectiveness, transparency and efficient and effective receipt and use of public resources for the benefit of citizens;

4. Also takes note with appreciation of the Lima Declaration of Guidelines on Auditing Precepts of 1977 and the Mexico Declaration on Supreme Audit Institutions Independence of 2007, and encourages Member States to apply, in a manner consistent with their national institutional structures, the principles set out in those Declarations;

5. Encourages Member States and relevant United Nations institutions to continue and to intensify their cooperation, including in capacity-building, with the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions in order to promote good governance by ensuring efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency through strengthened Supreme Audit Institutions.



Teleconference on the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation

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 idi@idi.no.


Meeting of Task Coordinators for the Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards

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:

E-mail: ics@nik.gov.pl
Website: www.psc-intosai.org/ics

Update from the Subcommittee on Peer Review

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 international@brh.bund.de.


Working Group on Environmental Auditing

The Road to Rio+20

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.

Recent News from the WGEA Secretariat

  • The Secretariat of the WGEA sent out the 7th Survey on Environmental Auditing to all INTOSAI member SAIs in February 2012. Although the first deadline of March 31 has already passed, all SAIs who have not yet contributed are strongly encouraged to do so by May 10 at the latest. A total of 111 SAIs responded to the last triennial survey, which was conducted in 2009. As was done with the 6th WGEA survey, a survey report will be issued to provide statistics and analysis of the environmental auditing practice of SAIs both internationally and regionally.
  • The INTOSAI Development Initiative and the WGEA will organize a wrap-up meeting for the Transregional Program on Performance Audit of Environmental Issues in Forestry in Vőru, Estonia, June 4–15, 2012. Project participants will design forest audit case studies, create a joint compendium of audit reports, and discuss SAI action plans for further related audit work. Participants will also view project results in light of the WGEA forest audit guide used in the program.
  • The 12th meeting of the WGEA Steering Committee will take place in Jaipur, India, in October 3–6 2012. The Steering Committee will review and approve the progress and drafts of the 2011–2013 work plan projects.

Please contact intosai@wgea.org or kaire.keskula@riigikontroll.ee for further information.


Working Group on Accountability for and Audit of Disaster-Related Aid

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:

  • A survey on the audit of disaster-related aid has been launched to establish best practice among SAIs, and a parallel audit is planned for later in 2012.
  • A coordinated parallel audit of disaster preparedness was launched in October 2011 with the participation of 10 SAIs.
  • In consultation with two other INTOSAI working groups (environmental auditing and the fight against corruption and money laundering), the WG AADA is focusing on fraud and corruption in the emergency relief phase of disaster-related aid.
  • The WG AADA has developed a proposal for an Integrated Financial Accountability Framework (IFAF) that includes guidance for relying on the work of other auditors and for private sector auditors auditing IFAF reports.

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:

E-mail: torielle.perreur@eca.europa.eu
Website: eca.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/intosai-aada/home

First Meeting of INTOSAI Task Force on Financial Foresight

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:

  • financial issues, including sustainable funding of INTOSAI priorities related to INTOSAI core tasks, other INTOSAI activities, and areas overlapping with third parties;
  • the need to improve strategic planning; and
  • the development of mechanisms for dealing with emerging issues facing the INTOSAI community, if approved by the INTOSAI Governing Board.

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

  • reach a common understanding of the task force mandate, how INTOSAI currently operates, and INTOSAI’s financial situation;
  • hold initial discussions on the three main subjects in the terms of reference, and
  • develop a list of products that the task force should produce before the XXI INCOSAI in China in 2013.

At its next meeting in June 2012, the task force will take important steps to

  • determine the extent to which the implementation of the previous and current INTOSAI strategic plans was financed by the INTOSAI budget, in-kind contributions, or external parties;
  • identify possible funding gaps for the implementation of the current strategic plan;
  • summarize the previous INTOSAI strategic planning processes;
  • identify important principles for the next INTOSAI strategic planning process; and
  • develop a first draft of categories of emerging issues for INTOSAI and mechanisms for dealing with them.

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 ola.hoem@riksrevisjonen.no.


Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight in CAROSAI

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.

Photo: Participants in the ParlAmericas workshop on strengthening parliamentary oversight that was held in Antigua and Barbuda in January 2012.
Participants in the ParlAmericas workshop on strengthening parliamentary oversight that was held in Antigua and Barbuda in January 2012.

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 carosai@gosl.gov.lc.


Implementing the EUROSAI Strategic Plan

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:

  • strengthening the institutional capacity of the EUROSAI member SAIs,
  • implementing the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions,
  • sharing relevant professional knowledge and experience, and
  • managing EUROSAI in accordance with the principles of good governance and effective communication.

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:

  • Review the current website to adapt it, as much as possible, to the needs of the EUROSAI strategic plan, with slight modifications that provide information in a more logical and easily accessible format.
  • Design a new EUROSAI website adapted to modern website parameters that makes use of new tools and platforms, is more focused on the needs and preferences of different target groups, and makes better use of new technologies that facilitate communication and discussion areas.

For additional information, contact the Tribunal de Contas at geral@tcontas.pt or dg@tcontas.pt.