International Journal of Government Auditing – April 2014
The Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Entities (OLACEFS) held its 23rd General Assembly in Santiago, Chile, December 8–11, 2013. Hosted by the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Chile, the assembly drew delegates from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay. Other participants included representatives from INTOSAI Secretariat (Austria), INTOSAI Governing Board Chair (China), INTOSAI Development Initiative (Venezuela), INTOSAI’s Capacity Building Committee (South Africa), AFROSAI (Cameroon), the Cayman Islands, Chinese Taipei, European Union, France, Germany, InterAmerican Development Bank, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Portugal, Spain, Suriname, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The Comptroller General of Chile and OLACEFS Secretary General, Ramiro Mendoza, provided a warm welcome to participants, and emphasized the impact that Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have on society. The president of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, participated in the opening ceremony, marking the importance of OLACEFS to its members and to the region. Representing INTOSAI’s Governing Board Chair, Mr. Zhou Weipei commented on OLACEFS’ significant contributions, in terms of cooperation and knowledge sharing, as well as its interaction with INTOSAI on noteworthy projects and agreements. Mr. Augusto Nardes the President of OLACEFS and President of the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), officially opened the assembly, highlighting the role of SAIs in contributing to good governance.
The year 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of OLACEFS, and the 23rd Assembly appropriately recognized this significant milestone with various events such as a commemorative video and the launching of a special commemorative edition of the OLACEFS Journal.
The General Assembly was organized around four themes:
The assembly began on December 9, which is International Anti-Corruption Day, and one presentation included a panel of experts on the fight against corruption, including: Dimitri Vlassis, Chief, Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and Paloma Baena, Deputy Head of Division, Public Sector Integrity Division, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, OECD.
This event was followed by a workshop led by Susana Silva, General Coordinator of the Peruvian High Level Anticorruption Commission. Also addressing the assembly on the topic of corruption was Claremont Graduate University Professor Robert Klitgaard. Paloma Baena, joined by Dr. Horacio Pernasetti, President of Technical Commission of Accountability of OLACEFS and Auditor General of the Court of Accounts of the Nation of Argentina, presented a program entitled Experiences on Citizen Engagement.
OLACEFS President Augusto Nardes led a panel discussion on ISSAI Implementation in OLACEFS. Panelists included Juan Javier Pérez Saavedra, Special Financial Compliance Auditor of the Supreme Audit Office of Mexico; Yadira Espinoza of IDI; Luciano Danni, Brazil TCU; and Alistair Swarbrick, Auditor General of the Cayman Islands.
The InterAmerican Development Bank’s Debbie Sprietzer, Lead Financial Management Specialist, and Hector Rabade, Financial Management Technical Coordinator, discussed transparency and confidence in public sector by sharing information on the advances of SAIs in Latin American and the Caribbean. Important development initiatives were shared by Augusto Nardes; Pietro Russo, member of the European Court of Accounts; IDI’s Yadira Espinoza; Kimi Makwetu, Auditor General of South Africa; Wessel Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer for the AFROSAI-E Secretariat; Carlos Alberto Lourenco Morais Antunes, Vice President of the Court of Accounts of Portugal;and Bertrand Diringer, President of the Regional Court of Accounts of Guadalupe, Guyana and Martinique.
The assembly adopted the Santiago Declaration, on governance, anti-corruption, and public trust. The four main commitments are (1) OLACEFS today— balance and challenges at 50, (2) SAIs’ mandate: fight against corruption, partnership with citizens and good governance, (3) improvements to OLACEFS and its members, and (4) support of INTOSAI principles.
During the administrative sessions, the assembly elected the SAI of Paraguay to the OLACEFS governing board, joining Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Honduras, and Peru, the host of the 24th OLACEFS General Assembly.
Throughout the conference, the Comptroller General Ramiro Mendoza and his staff treated participants with gracious and generous hospitality. Highlights included a night of culture and celebration for OLACEFS’ 50 years at Bali Hai Restaurant in Santiago, with food, wine, music, and dance; and, a closing dinner at the Military Historical Museum with performances by various military bands and ensembles. Following the conference delegates had the opportunity to visit the Santa Rita Winery and the Andean Museum.
Information on the 23rd OLACEFS General Assembly, including presentations and papers, is available at http://www.olacefs.com.
On December 10, 2013, in Santiago, Chile, as part of the XXIII General Assembly of the Latin American and Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented its draft review on the work it carried out on the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Chile (CGR).
The presentation of the study was conducted by Mr. Mario Marcel, Deputy Director of Governance and Territorial Development of OECD, who reviewed the main aspects considered in the study. Mr. Marcel also introduced preliminary recommendations that seek to optimize the products and services delivered by the CGR, and to help consolidate the important role it plays in the country.
In his speech, Mr. Marcel emphasized the role that SAIs have as actors to regain public confidence, a task that necessarily must involve organizations, such as OLACEFS, that bring together Supreme Audit Institutions. “Where there is no trust, policies are not followed," he said, adding that confidence results when organizations are efficient and when proper functioning of the public system is achieved.
Comptroller General of Chile, Mr. Ramiro Mendoza, responded to the issue of which entity controls the Comptroller, saying that the OECD-CGR report is a form of control over the institution and its director. On the statement made by Mr. Marcel, who reported that the CGR has an international reputation and has public trust, the Comptroller stated that the challenge for SAIs is to define how to transfer the seeds of that reliability to the State.
The President of the Court of Accounts of Brazil and President of OLACEFS, Mr. Augusto Nardes, also participated in this event. He shared his insights on the experience of members of the organization on external evaluation. He stressed the importance of SAIs in implementing good governance, while indicating the importance of working together for regional integration.
With the delivery of the OECD-CGR Preliminary Report, the CGR commences a gradual implementation of the recommendations made to improve its work. The recommendations seek to support the daily work of the Public Administration, allow citizens to become acquainted with the work it is carrying out and thereby facilitate citizen access to public information, and enhance communication and coordination with civil society and the branches of the State, among others.
The ceremony was attended by a broad representation of the CGR stakeholders as well as by representatives of the participating SAIs in the XXIII OLACEFS General Assembly.
The increasingly widespread perception of a new role for citizens raises the question as to what exists as a background for activism. Many signals indicate that the motivation behind this type of activism is actually a way to reconfigure trust as a cohesive factor within the public sphere, both in institutions and in the people that revolve around it.
Be it on the street, through what is now called judicial activism, or through their increasing presence in debates, people want to be informed about the actions of public agencies and the rationale behind their decision-making—and they demand to affect said decisions. The reliability on institutions of representative democracy and their capacity to shape social evolution on behalf of the people has ceased to exist. Citizens want to know all the facts, and they want to participate in the processes that affect them. Specialized literature and public opinion studies confirm and reinforce this perception.
The Santiago Declaration reflects this transformation. The Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) in Latin America and the Caribbean signed the Santiago Declaration on December 9, 2013, as a part of OLACEFS. Certainly, SAIs have internalized these changes from their point of view regarding their exercise of local fiscal control, but they have done so with the widened perspective that is of those who are in a privileged position and are able to scrutinize public institutions from a panoramic, independent, and neutral point of view.
The Santiago Declaration states a fundamental principle: citizens trust SAIs more than central or local government institutions. They therefore expect SAIs to provide elements that are functional within their new demands, especially those regarding the correct and honest use of public resources. There are now expectations about SAI roles that transcend the SAI’s mere compliance with their classic control functions, and contribute to the development of good governance.
Based on that cornerstone, the SAIs from Latin America and the Caribbean wrote a roadmap for the Declaration for the coming years: to raise performance standards, and strengthen their mandate and capabilities to live up to the trust of the people in them.
First of all, and along the lines of strengthening the mandate in favor of integrity, transparency, and accountability, the SAIs affirm their commitment to international conventions against corruption, and take on the explicit commitment to implement the measures found in these conventions so as to expand and deepen their effect across the continent.
Next, the SAIs reaffirm their commitment to a set of issues on the civil society agenda, particularly those regarding the development of diverse forms of relations, good practices regarding articulation, and collaborative work alongside citizens. This is to facilitate feedback and, in the spirit of the Open Government Agenda, provide useful, accessible, and open-data based information. The decision to move forward with the inclusion of citizens in the cycle of an SAI audit, from its planning to the tracking of its recommendations, is encouraged.
Furthermore, regarding an aspect that is less known to these institutions, the Santiago Declaration highlights the SAI’s collaborative and advisory role. Aside from exercising its control function, this role encourages and enables partnerships with governments to spread probity and accountability culture in all state agencies, including ministries, services, regional governments, and municipalities.
Finally, institutional capacities need to comply with how this new and demanding role will be developed, especially in the areas of human resources, auditing tools, and management modernization. SAIs will then be able to direct their efforts toward results, optimizing processes so that quality products may timely be made available to citizens. Through the Santiago Declaration, Latin American and Caribbean SAIs have progressed from diagnosing the epochal changes we are going through, especially those regarding citizen’s roles, to implementing concrete and plausible initiatives to build this new alliance between the public sphere and civil society on a foundation of public trust sustained by integrity, transparency, and accountability.
The INTOSAI Compliance Audit Subcommittee (CAS) held its 11th annual meeting September 18-19, 2013. The meeting was held in Brasília, Brazil, and was hosted by the Federal Court of Accounts of Brazil (TCU). The meeting was officially opened by Mr. Augusto Ribeiro Nardes, President of the Federal Court of Accounts of Brazil.
The program for the first day of the meeting was focused primarily on discussing the implementation and maintenance of the ISSAI 4000 series. The second day of the meeting contained a discussion of issues related to the Court of Accounts, such as the maintenance strategy.
IDI presented their 3i Program. The Program has already developed an assessment tool, iCAT, which will make it possible to see the extent of the implementation of ISSAIs on compliance audit by various SAIs around the world (as well as the areas of gaps in implementation). Two of the planned activities in 2014 are an implementation handbook and an e-course on compliance audit.
The members of the committee report there is an awareness of the importance and challenges concerning the implementation of the ISSAI standards and guidelines. It is challenging to use proper terminology in their respective languages; using the same definitions will lead to a more efficient impact for the SAI's staff, and distinguish clearly between standards and guidelines. Therefore, the standards should come with appendixes. Regarding work in a regularity audit, the auditor must do both financial and compliance audit. In this respect, it would be natural that the two subcommittees Financial Audit Subcommittee (FAS) and CAS should cooperate.
As to the roll-out of the standards in the audit community, the efforts of IDI are impressive. Regardless, there is always room for improvement both of the overall knowledge of standards and the understanding of the vast area of subject matter that is required by the subcommittees to deliver the project. In the roll-out exercise, for example, the experts in the various subcommittees can be called upon in the regions.
In connection with the maintenance of the ISSAIs, CAS needs to see where the SAIs do not comply with the ISSAIs. Hence the maintenance review of the standards can make the necessary alterations and modifications to enable their implementation. In this regard, CAS has to work with the facilitators and mentors to be sure that they have the same professional standards.
The European Court of Auditors, Slovakia, and Norway were appointed to join the harmonization team. The CAS team had its first formal meeting in 2011 in Bratislava. The achievements of the project are the ISSAIs 100, 200, 300, and 400. The ISSAIs were endorsed at INCOSAI in China in October 2013. The new Principles on Public Sector Auditing and the new ISSAI 400 are a common committee achievement.
The new level 3 ISSAIs form the point of departure for the maintenance process of the ISSAI 4000 series to be conducted by CAS in coming years. The Principles on Public Sector Auditing gives the SAIs the option of applying the Compliance Audit Guidelines as authoritative standards, and so they need to clearly express the difference between requirements and guidance. There are drafting style guidelines for the further maintenance of level 4, requiring them to follow the terminology, structure, and contents of level 3.
The ISSAI 4300 has been developed, revised, and refined through several rounds, with participation of the CAS member countries Brazil, ECA, Portugal, Romania, and Tunisia. In January 2013 a meeting was held in Oslo, where it was decided, in light of the decisions of the harmonization project, to redraft the document in the structure of ISSAI 400. This redrafted version is what the group presented before the committee. On the basis of the document, there are two options for compliance audit in the context of Courts: to be integrated into level 4 in a maintenance process as either additional requirements, or as a stand-alone document.
The committee concluded that on the basis of the draft ISSAI 4300, the Court model will be recognized as a part of the standards of INTOSAI through integration into a common Compliance Audit Standard.
Based on a previous committee hearing, the main CAS proposal of strategy is to restructure the ISSAI 4000 series into one common authoritative standard for compliance auditing, following the structure of ISSAI 400. The present contents of ISSAI 400 form the basis for requirements, and the present contents of ISSAI 4100/4200 form the basis of guidance for the document.
The discussions in the meeting identified three main areas in need of further development. Prior to the next CAS meeting, a first draft of a document has to be developed in these three areas:
In addition the courts of accounts must consider the specific needs of the courts, and on each requirement consider if there is a need for specific issues related to courts.
The independence of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) is an essential principle for INTOSAI, as stated in Level 1 ISSAI. SAIs can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence. The independence of SAIs must be laid down in the constitution or highest legislation.
This independence is of primary importance to guarantee the transparency and integrity of public administration, thereby strengthening trust in public institutions and “making a difference in the lives of citizens,” which is, according to ISSAI 12, public auditing’s prime objective. Auditors must carry out the audits impartially and must perform their tasks in full compliance with relevant professional and ethical rules, and their activities must not be influenced by the auditees. SAIs must be provided with the financial means to enable them to accomplish their tasks.
Due to all of these factors, SAI independence is one of the core values of EUROSAI Strategic Plan 2011-2017. Promoting and organizing activities to raise awareness of the importance of SAI independence is a key goal of the EUROSAI Goal Team 1 on “Building Capacity,” chaired by the French SAI. With reference to one of its tasks in the draft Operational Plan of EUROSAI Goal Team 1, the State Audit Office of Hungary compiled a booklet summarizing the findings of a survey on independence of SAIs entitled, "Take Active Steps to Strengthen and Support SAI Independence," and planned to host a EUROSAI workshop on independence in Budapest, March 28, 2014.
To learn more about EUROSAI visit http://www.eurosai.org
The ninth EUROSAI Congress will be held in June 2014 in The Netherlands. It will welcome all Heads of the European Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). Its theme will be innovation: the Netherlands Court of Audit wants the critical and innovative voices of the young generation to be heard at the EUROSAI Congress. This is why EUROSAI organized the first Young EUROSAI Congress, also on innovation, in Rotterdam in November 2013. At that event, more than a hundred young auditors had an opportunity to build an international network, share ideas, and participate in workshops to discuss with their counterparts innovative best practices.
The YES Congress first identified strategic and operational challenges facing SAIs. The participants then had to think up solutions to the question,” What are the main challenges and opportunities?”
The young generation at the YES Congress identified several important developments and opportunities. But we still have no ready-to-use solutions. Young EUROSAI has a strong message for the heads of European SAIs: the world is changing and it is affecting our work. We have to respond to social change. We have to innovate, to do new things and do the old things differently. And change is only just beginning for the young generation of auditors. Change in bureaucratic institutions such as SAIs is not a simple matter, because innovation is like rowing against the tide: it redefines familiar concepts and tears down established frameworks. SAIs work with a zeroerror culture, but they will have to take risks and accept that an innovative idea can have unanticipated results. Both the process and the outcome are unknown. This is uncharted territory for organizations that are constantly seeking assurances and safeguards. Innovation needs guts, from both young auditors and their seniors. A young generation of auditors showed guts at the YES Congress and is working out the ideas at their own institutions. EUROSAI hopes the senior managers follow in their footsteps in June 2014.
More information on Young EUROSAI, including video reports as well as the full report (in an innovative Mindmap) of the first Young EUROSAI Congress, can be found at http://www.eurosai2014.nl/YES-2013
At its meeting in June 2013 in Stockholm, the Steering Committee of the Professional Standards Committee decided that a review of ISSAI 30 – Code of Ethics should be commenced, in accordance with the maintenance principles.
A team has been established to carry out the ISSAI 30 review project. This team is composed of the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of the following countries that volunteered to participate in the project: Indonesia, Poland (project leader), Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The first stage of the project is an initial assessment, i.e., a judgement on whether ISSAI 30 is suitable in the modern public sector auditing world or whether it needs an update, and–if so–how extensive such an update should be. This stage should result in a report to the PSC Steering Committee in May 2014, recommending whether a revision of ISSAI 30 should or should not be carried out.
In order to determine whether the INTOSAI Code of Ethics needs a revision, the Project Group developed an online survey aimed at gathering the opinions of the INTOSAI community on the code. The survey was distributed among INTOSAI members, and replies from individual SAIs will be analyzed and incorporated into an overall opinion of the INTOSAI community. On the basis of this opinion a recommendation will be made to the PSC Steering Committee as to the need for an ISSAI 30 revision.
If the initial assessment results in a conclusion that an update of ISSAI 30 is necessary to meet the needs of INTOSAI SAIs, a plan for the review will be presented in accordance with the requirements of the Due Process for INTOSAI Professional Standards.
If the initial assessment shows that a review of ISSAI 30 is not needed, a recommendation will be made to the PSC Steering Committee to close the project.
Any questions regarding the project can be addressed to ISSAI30.Review@nik.gov.pl.
The Supreme Audit Institution of Norway has, through its Office of the Auditor General, provided INTOSAI with a voluntary financial contribution of 10,000 € earmarked for the development and maintenance of INTOSAI’s auditing standards on financial, compliance, and performance audit on level 4 of the ISSAI framework.
Chair of the Professional Standards Committee, Bettina Jakobsen, welcomed this evidence of support to the efforts made by INTOSAI within professional standard setting. She assured Auditor General, Per-Kristian Foss, that the money will be put to good use.
In early February, some 300 members of SAIs around the world were invited to participate in an electronic survey launched by the chair of the Professional Standards Committee. The purpose of the survey was to collect experiences and viewpoints on INTOSAI’s standard-setting activities among people who had been actively involved in either developing or approving ISSAIs or INTOSAI GOVs.
According to its mandate for 2014–2016, the Professional Standards Committee should evaluate and improve the standard-setting processes of INTOSAI in close cooperation with the INTOSAI Task Force on Strategic Planning. This will ensure and develop INTOSAI’s standards for public-sector auditing.
The survey represents just one of the components in this evaluation, which will also include, for instance, benchmarking with other standard setters.
Fifteen member SAIs attended the seventh WFGACML meeting, as did representatives from the Namibian anti-corruption commission and the Bank of Namibia. During the meeting, the following actions took place:
On February 10, 2014, the President of the State Audit Bureau of Kuwait welcomed 63 delegates from the SAIs of Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kiribati, South Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, United States of America, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as from the IDI, for the 23rd meeting of the INTOSAI Working Group on IT Audit (WGITA).
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India and Chairman of the INTOSAI Working Group on IT Audit, Mr. Shashi Kant Sharma, chaired the working sessions, during which updates on initiatives from previous meetings were discussed.These included the intoIT Journal, the Working Group’s website, country paper presentations, and the release of the WGITA-IDI IT Handbook on IT Audit for Supreme Audit Institutions. The Working Group also discussed and reviewed the progress of the five ongoing WGITA projects included in the WGITA Work Plan 2014–2016.
It was decided that the 24th INTOSAI Working Group on IT Audit meeting will be held in Poland in 2015 and the 25th meeting will be held in Brazil in 2016.
More information about the work of the INTOSAI Working Group on IT Audit can be obtained at http://www.intosaiitaudit.org.