International Journal of Government Auditing – April 2010
From May 26–27, 2010, the INTOSAI General Secretariat will host a conference in Vienna, Austria, on strengthening external public auditing in INTOSAI regions.
This conference was developed based on the conviction that INTOSAI should make every effort to strengthen the independence and capacities of its member SAIs. The planned conference will will focus mainly on the needs and requirements of INTOSAI’s seven regional working groups. It will discuss different approaches to transmitting the values and benefits of independent SAIs in INTOSAI’s regions along with the resulting requirements and needs for capacity building.
For additional information, contact the INTOSAI Secretariat:
As reported in the January Journal, representatives of INTOSAI and 15 donor multilateral and national agencies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Brussels on October 20, 2009. The MOU brings SAIs together with the donor community in a common approach to strengthening SAI capacity in developing countries; it also provides a variety of mechanisms to facilitate donor funding and support in line with donor mandates, priorities, and requirements.
INTOSAI Representatives on the Steering Committee
The MOU provides for a governance structure consisting of a Steering Committee assisted by a Secretariat to provide administrative support. All donor signatories to the MOU are members of the Steering Committee. At the 59th INTOSAI Governing Board meeting in November 2009, the board approved the following INTOSAI representation—to achieve technical expertise and balanced regional representation—on the Steering Committee: the SAIs of Saudi Arabia (Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee), Denmark (Chair of the Professional Standards Committee), Morocco (Chair of the Capacity Building Committee), India (Chair of the Knowledge Sharing Committee), the United States of America (Chair of the Task Force on Donor Funding), and Austria (INTOSAI General Secretariat); the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), the capacity-building arm of INTOSAI; and two rotating regional members.
Initial Steering Committee Meeting Held in Morocco in February 2010
The initial meeting of the Steering Committee was held February 22–23, 2010, in Marrakech, hosted by the Court of Accounts of the Kingdom of Morocco. In preparation for that meeting, a task force comprising representatives of IDI, the European Commission, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), and the World Bank developed initial discussion papers on the Steering Committee and its Secretariat. One paper considered and recommended a structure for the Steering Committee’s operations, a work program, and funding modalities, and the other addressed working modalities and the host for the Secretariat.
Representatives at the meeting agreed upon working modalities for the Steering Committee that include consensus decision making, and joint Steering Committee leadership, with joint chairs and vice-chairs from the INTOSAI and donor communities. INTOSAI appointed the SAI of Saudi Arabia as Chair and the SAI of the United States as Vice Chair, based on their roles as Chair and Vice Chair of the INTOSAI Finance and Administration Committee. The donor community appointed the World Bank as Chair and DFID as Vice Chair to represent the multilateral and bilateral donor organizations, respectively. Recognizing that this cooperative agreement is still in its development phase, the Steering Committee adopted an interim work program for the period leading up to the second Steering Committee meeting, which is to take place in South Africa in November 2010. The key activities for the interim work program are to
take stock of ongoing capacity-building initiatives in the SAI community,
develop an overview of existing strategic plans and development action plans,
survey the needs of SAIs in developing countries,
detect funding gaps, and
gather examples of good practices for SAI capacity building.
This survey and analysis will provide important input to the joint work program to be decided upon at the second Steering Committee meeting. The work program will ensure that support is provided in a strategic, transparent, coordinated, sustainable, and needs-based manner.
At the Morocco meeting, the Steering Committee appointed IDI to host its Secretariat in recognition of IDI’s broad experience in SAI capacity building and wide network within INTOSAI as well as INTOSAI’s commitment to the success of this cooperative agreement. The interim terms of reference for the Secretariat identify roles and responsibilities for (1) carrying out the above-mentioned key activities of the interim work program, (2) administering and facilitating Steering Committee meetings, (3) carrying out information and awareness-raising activities, and (4) ensuring effective communication. The Steering Committee recognized that the Secretariat’s roles and responsibilities will evolve over time and that the Secretariat will be a key support for the Steering Committee in implementing the MOU.
For further information, please contact the INTOSAI-Donor Community Steering Committee Secretariat, IDI:
Fax: +47 21 54 08 50
In preparation for the XX INCOSAI in November 2010, the Secretariat of the Financial Audit Subcommittee (FAS) is focusing its efforts on raising awareness of the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) on financial audit within the INTOSAI community. FAS’s ultimate goal is to provide SAI leadership with the information they need to decide to implement the ISSAIs. FAS will also participate in joint awareness-raising initiatives with the Professional Standards Committee.
Whenever possible, members of FAS and its Secretariat will introduce the ISSAIs on financial audit to INTOSAI members at international meetings. For example, FAS Project Director Jonas Hällström will visit the Namibian SAI in connection with the FAS meeting in South Africa in April to introduce the ISSAIs.
In another effort to raise awareness, FAS sent information kits in early March to 79 key persons who had been nominated from 64 different SAIs. The kits included a PowerPoint presentation, a handout, and speaking notes so that the recipients could give an introductory presentation on the INTOSAI financial audit guidelines at their respective organizations. The material is also available on the FAS Web site at http://psc.rigsrevisionen.dk/fas.
Other FAS Activities
FAS continues to appoint experts to task forces of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). Currently, INTOSAI experts are working on task forces to revise International Standard on Auditing (ISA) 610 and ISA 720.
The practice notes included in the ISSAIs are currently being translated into INTOSAI’s five official languages. The European Court of Auditors is working on translating and proofreading the French, German, and Spanish versions. The translating firm Büro Tazir is doing the Arabic translation, which the Moroccan SAI is proofreading.
The next FAS meeting will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, April 14-16, 2010, hosted by the South African SAI. This meeting will focus on approving ISSAIs 1000 and 1003 and the translation of the practice notes into INTOSAI’s official languages. FAS will also discuss its work plan for the next 3 years. The subcommittee will meet in Stockholm, Sweden, September 8–9.
In March, FAS Chair Gert Jönsson attended his first IAASB meeting as a member of the board. The meeting was held in New York City. He was supported by FAS Director Jonas Hällström as technical advisor.
For additional information, please contact the FAS Secretariat:
The Web site of the Subcommittee on Accounting and Reporting was launched in January 2010 and resides on the site of the Professional Standards Committee. It contains general information on the subcommittee’s mandate, work plan, and membership. It also contains various reports and presentations, including the results of its 2009 survey on financial accounting and standards and reports to the Professional Standards Committee and the INTOSAI Governing Board.
For additional information on the subcommittee’s work, contact Stuart Barr, Assistant Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
Since 1992, when it was formed, the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) has conducted six surveys to monitor the trends, developments, and challenges that audit offices are facing in environmental auditing. The sixth survey, covering the period from January 2006 through March 2009, was sent to all INTOSAI members in 2009. A total of 106 SAIs completed the survey, for an overall response rate of 59 percent.
The survey focused on such areas as SAI auditing mandates, conduct of environmental audits, measurement of the effect of audits, SAI capacity for environmental auditing, cooperation with other SAIs, use of INTOSAI and WGEA products, and future audit plans.
The survey results indicate the following developments for January 2006 through March 2009:
SAIs are increasingly specifying their mandates to audit environmental issues. Most SAIs indicated that their environmental audit mandate had not changed since 2006.
SAIs are increasingly conducting environmental audits. Most SAIs (78 percent) have conducted environmental audits and more than half (59 percent) said the number of audits had increased since 2006. Also, most SAIs (86 percent) are considering environmental issues in their other audits.
Environmental audit objectives have generally remained the same, the two most common being determining compliance with domestic environmental legislation and evaluating the performance of government environmental programs. The most important environmental audit topics for the SAIs participating in the survey were natural resources, the quality and supply of drinking water, and general waste. Climate change was also mentioned as a popular topic.
The number of audits on international environmental agreements and sustainable development has remained more or less the same as the previous survey. The three most audited conventions are the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol), the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. The variety of agreements and treaties has somewhat expanded.
More than half of the SAIs (56 percent) measure the effect of their environmental audits, primarily by observing the government’s responses to audit recommendations and conducting follow-up audits. The main reasons for not measuring audit effect are the lack of (1) environmental data/indicators and (2) a proper follow-up system.
In 82 percent of the responding SAIs, 1 or more percent of all employees work on environmental auditing. In 33 percent of SAIs, the share of employees working on environmental audits has increased since 2006. The development of other capacities (in areas such as budget, training, and methodology) has also increased in 43 percent of SAIs.
The most common obstacles the SAIs experience in development environmental audits are (1) insufficient monitoring and reporting systems and data on the state of environment and (2) lack of skills or expertise within the SAI. A positive change from previous surveys is that SAIs are using different kinds of measures more frequently to overcome those obstacles—primarily training staff, using international organizations’ environmental standards, and collecting environmental data directly from the field. Many SAIs underscored the importance of continuously carrying out environmental audits and developing their capacity through training and cooperative activities. The importance of assistance from the INTOSAI WGEA and regional WGEAs was also cited.
A large share of all SAIs (80 percent) plan to conduct environmental audits during the 2009–2011 period, primarily in the areas of natural resources, waste, and water. More than half of the SAIs (64 percent) plan to increase the volume of their environmental audits.
Half of the SAIs (50 percent) have had experience cooperating with another SAI on an environmental auditing issue since 2006. As in previous surveys, the most common cooperative activity was the exchange of audit information or experiences among SAIs. All SAIs cited their cooperative activities as relevant and useful tools in their work. SAIs believe that using information technology—i.e., developing interactive Web sites and using e-training—will be beneficial for future cooperation among SAIs.
The most used and important INTOSAI WGEA products are auditing guidance materials, the home page, and the Greenlines newsletter.
The Chair of the INTOSAI WGEA would like to thank all the SAIs who responded to this survey. The responses were essential to describing the developments and trends in the field of environmental auditing in the past 17 years and updating the INTOSAI WGEA Web site. The results of this survey will also play a vital role in developing the 2011–13 INTOSAI WGEA work plan and serving the needs of INTOSAI members.
The full survey report can be found on the INTOSAI WGEA Web site (www.environmental-auditing.org) under WGEA Publications, Surveys.
For additional information, contact the WGEA Secretariat at the National
Audit Office of Estonia:
Fax: +372 640 0101
At the XI ASOSAI Assembly on October 12, 2009, Tanwir Ali Agha, Auditor-General of Pakistan, became the new Chairman of ASOSAI, taking over from Jiayi Liu, Auditor General of the Chinese National Audit Office. On that occasion, Mr. Agha assured ASOSAI members that his priority as Chairman of ASOSAI would be to carry the mission forward within the framework of the ASOSAI Charter and with the cooperation, assistance, and support of all members of the ASOSAI family and its strategic partners.
Mr. Agha became the 16th Auditor General of Pakistan in July 2007. As head of the Pakistani SAI, he is entrusted by the Constitution with the responsibility of reporting to the national and provincial legislatures on the results of the federal and provincial governments’ financial operations.
Mr. Agha has had a diverse career in public service. In addition to various positions in the SAI, he held key jobs in the Ministry of Finance for more than two decades. He was the Economic Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan in the United States and an Executive Director on the Board of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Before assuming the office of Auditor-General, he served as Finance Secretary to the Government of Pakistan. Mr. Agha has had extensive exposure to public finance policy planning and coordination at the highest levels of decision making.
Currently, Mr. Agha is the Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ECOSAI) and External Auditor of the United Nations (UN) Industrial Development Organization. He is also a member of the UN Panel of External Auditors. He was the External Auditor of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the 2006–08 term.
For additional information, contact the Office of the Auditor-General:
On October 28–29, 2009, the NIK, the SAI of Poland, hosted a pilot seminar on the framework of International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) and INTOSAI Guidelines on Good Governance. The seminar was a joint initiative of the NIK, Chair of the EUROSAI Governing Board, and the Danish Rigsrevisionen, Chair of the INTOSAI Professional Standards Committee (PSC).
The seminar gathered representatives of 26 EUROSAI SAIs (including the European Court of Auditors), 1 OLACEFS SAI, and 1 ARABOSAI SAI.
The seminar’s primary goal was to increase the EUROSAI SAIs’ knowledge of the content, structure, and purpose of the framework of INTOSAI standards and guidelines. The participants exchanged experiences in applying the standards to financial, compliance, performance, environmental, and internal control auditing within their national organizations.
In his welcome presentation, Jacek Jezierski, President of the NIK and Chair of the EUROSAI Governing Board, emphasized the importance of ISSAIs in fulfilling EUROSAI’s strategic priorities, which encompass active contributions to its members’ institutional development by creating opportunities for training, knowledge, and information sharing. Mr. Jezierski also presented the strategic objectives of the EUROSAI Governing Board.
Henrik Otbo, Auditor General of the Danish Rigsrevisionen and Chair of INTOSAI’s PSC, shared the PSC’s perspective on the motivations for working with ISSAIs. He described the main challenges facing the PSC and emphasized that the standards are likely to gain importance as the demand for transparency in the public sector increases.
All materials from the seminar—including general information, presentations, participant reports, and photos—are available on the EUROSAI Web site at the following link: www.eurosai2008.pl.
The Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Entities (OLACEFS) held its 19th General Assembly in Asunción, Paraguay, October 5–9, 2009. Hosted by the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Paraguay, the assembly drew delegates from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Perú, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Uruguay. Guests and observers included representatives from Spain, Portugal, Germany, the World Bank, and this Journal.
The opening ceremony was held in the Bicameral Room of the National Congress of the Republic of Paraguay. The President of Paraguay, don Fernando Lugo Méndez, officially opened the ceremony, warmly welcoming the delegates and thanking them for their role in contributing to government accountability in the region. The President of OLACEFS, Julio Cesar Turbay Quintero, Comptroller General of Colombia, also addressed the delegates, as did Octavio Augusto Airaldi, Comptroller General of Paraguay, and Miguel Carrizosa, the President of the Paraguayan Senate.
Technical Theme Presentations
The General Assembly was organized around four themes:
the budget as the financial expression of development plans, its execution and effect;
principles of accountability for the member countries of OLACEFS;
world and regional conventions in the fight against corruption; and
the environment and sustainable development: the challenges of climate change and energy development.
Plenary addresses introduced each theme and were followed by delegate debates on the major issues raised in the papers and the discussions. Guest speakers for the respective themes included Octavio Augusto Airaldi, Comptroller General of Paraguay; Licenciada Rocio Aguilar, Comptroller General of Costa Rica; Carlos Polit Faggioni, Comptroller General of Ecuador; and Oscar Lamberto, Auditor General of Argentina. The assembly adopted the Declaration of Asunción, which lays out eight major accountability principles for good governance and is intended as a guide for member countries. The declaration also expresses the commitment of OLACEFS members to emphasize and reinforce environmental issues within the plans and public policies of their respective governments.
Because the Director General of the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) was unable to attend the General Assembly, a video presentation with accompanying PowerPoint slides described the joint IDI and OLACEFS programs to strengthen the institutional and professional capacity of the supreme audit institutions of developing countries.
During the general business session, the assembly elected the President of the Brazilian Tribune of Accounts and the Comptroller General of Venezuela to the Governing Board of OLACEFS for 2010–2011.
The 20th OLACEFS General Assembly will be held in 2010 in Guatemala in the July/August time frame.
Throughout the conference, the Comptroller General and his staff treated participants with gracious and generous hospitality. In addition to a private tour and reception at the Museum of South American Soccer, they provided a taste of local cuisine, music, and dance at both the opening reception and closing dinner at the Hotel Guarani Esplendor. In addition, the President of Paraguay hosted the heads of the delegations at a private dinner at the Presidential residence. Following the conference delegates had the opportunity to visit the Yguazú waterfalls in Brazil and the Itaipu hydroelectric dam along the border of Brazil and Paraguay.
Information on the 19th OLACEFS General Assembly, including presentations and papers, will be available on www.olacefs.net.