International Journal of Government Auditing – Autumn 2017
Mr. Jørgen Kosmo, former Auditor General (AG) of Norway, passed away July 24, 2017, at the age of 69.
He was appointed by Parliament as the AG of Norway in 2006 and held the position until he retired in 2013. In this capacity, he also served as Chairman of the Board for the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Development Initiative (IDI) and was a member of INTOSAI's Governing Board.
Prior to his duty as Norway's AG, he was a Member of the Norwegian Parliament for more than 20 years, where he, for the last four years, was the Speaker of Parliament. He also served as Minister of Defense and Minister of Administrative Affairs in Norway.
He also served as Minister of Defense and Minister of Administrative Affairs in Norway. Jørgen, as everyone called him, believed strongly in the necessity of independent public sector auditing and the benefits of international cooperation among Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). He was a firm supporter of INTOSAI, and, in 2007, he established the development cooperation function at the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of Norway, which supports other SAIs in strengthening their capacity. As a dedicated and progressive chair of the IDI board, Jørgen always fought for SAIs needing support.
Jørgen retired 3 ½ years ago, but he is still very much remembered for his professionalism, kindness and humor. He will be greatly missed by so many friends and colleagues in Norway and abroad.
"Pacific Auditors Working Together"-the fundamental notion that shapes the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI). Every year, PASAI members unite to strengthen relationships and share knowledge, ideas and experiences-truly working together-to benefit the lives of citizens.
This year's congress, PASAI's 20th, took place in Funafuti, Tuvalu, August 8-11, 2017, where roughly 50 delegates representing Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), member organizations and development partners offered perspectives related to the congressional theme, "Promoting Values and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions Through Effective Communication."
The Honorable Maatia Toafa, Tuvalu's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Economic Development, officially opened the 20th PASAI Congress.
In his speech to attendees, Mr. Toafa underscored the importance and timeliness of the congress and its theme given Tuvalu's recently updated Audit Act, which has significantly increased SAI Tuvalu's statutory independence.
"With these changes and increased powers, comes additional accountability. This accountability must be effectively communicated to stakeholders in order to be demonstrated," he said.
Engaging presentations, robust discussions, interactive workshops and networking events led to a healthy mix of communication topics, including benefits SAIs provide to stakeholders; challenges faced; best practices proving fruitful for many; and commitments to improve strategies, programs and initiatives.
The value and benefits SAIs provide are numerous, and as Tony Prcevich, Technical Advisor to SAI Tuvalu, pointed out, International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) 12, "Value and Benefits of SAIs," is a great place to start. ISSAI 12, with its principles that outline how SAIs can add value to its citizens, was recognized by PASAI members as being vital to enhance stakeholder communication.
SAI contributions to all stakeholders-internally and externally, locally and globally-are important, but conveying what SAIs do and how they add value isn't always easy. Numerous complications exist that impede sharing the right information at the right time with the right people.
Resources, technology and language barriers were common themes. Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)-Chuuk suffers tremendously due to staff shortages. As the smallest auditing body in the pacific region (based on number of employees), they have neither the time nor the personnel to perform non-audit tasks. This hurdle is faced by others, including Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), where communications become collateral duties for auditors.
"We are finalizing our communications strategy; however, we have no dedicated person to complete and implement it," stressed Ms. Geraldine Demapan Tenorio, Audit Supervisor, CNMI Office of the Public Auditor.
Many participants provided similar stories of continually having to balance competing priorities with limited resources.
Capitalizing on technology signified another difficulty for several PASAI members. As discussions progressed, several SAIs said they did not have a web or social media presence, making active communication with stakeholders difficult. The absence of an electronic footprint did not stem from a lack of desire. Quite the contrary. Nonexistent technical resources and insufficient funding were the primary reasons cited.
Ms. Margaret Crawford, Auditor General, New South Wales, acknowledged the technological deficiencies and underscored the importance of face-to-face interaction and networking opportunities, a view shared by Mr. Ihlen Joseph, PASAI Chair and Public Auditor with FSM-Pohnpei.
"The coconut wireless news media is the most effective communications tool in my state," asserted Mr. Joseph, who expressed informal exchanges represent the principal means for sharing news and information in his territory.
"The auditing arena is one of continuous innovation, adaptation and change, and we will continue to meet and bring inspired people together in congresses like this to ensure our organizational relationships remain at the cutting edge."
-Eli Lopati, Auditor General, Tuvalu
Language also arose as problematic in the communications arena. Some nations are geographically dispersed with territories that speak different dialects. And, it's not just foreign language that creates challenges, it's also auditing language.
"As part of our plain language journey, we need to improve how we communicate our audit results. We need to provide recommendations that are practical and address the root cause," stressed Mr. Andrew Greaves, Auditor General, Victoria State of Australia.
SAI Papua New Guinea echoed the sentiment, adding that audit recommendations should be clear, precise and practical.
On the language front, SAI New Zealand has established an audit blog on its website. "The Kiwi Guide to Audit Reports" is a fun, engaging way to translate audit speak into simpler vernacular.
While the sheer volume of challenges can seem daunting, addressing them is essential. One of the congress workshops aided in this endeavor by asking delegates to develop communications commitments using SMART goals-goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-bound. These commitments represented true dedication, as the PASAI Secretariat vowed to check in with each member in six months to evaluate the progress toward achieving these objectives established during this workshop.
In the coming months, several SAIs pledged to roll out communications strategies; issue reports using a broad media mix; and take advantage of public awareness events to further enhance audience engagement.
Some initiatives aimed at increasing SAI transparency and stakeholder engagement included:
In addition to the PASAI Congress roundtable discussions and workshops, several formal and informal networking events fostered the sharing of ideas and allowed delegates to cultivate new relationships, as well as reinforce existing ones, while experiencing and embracing all that Tuvalu has to offer.
At a state dinner held on opening night, Honorable Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, addressed attendees with a moving speech that encapsulated the spirit of the PASAI Congress-coming together to find ways to improve the lives of citizens.
Though it may be said many of the "more important" decisions were actually made underneath the coconut palms, some vital outcomes were reached by majority vote during the event's closing session, including a decrease in travel funding for board members and an increase in membership fees across the board.
Raising association dues was not a decision made lightly, or easily, but as Ms. Doris Flores Brooks, Public Auditor with Guam's Public Accountability Office, emphasized, "The benefits of PASAI membership are immeasurable compared to what we have to pay."
Indeed, PASAI membership is quite rewarding. An open forum to share ideas. An environment where support is a certainty. An organization where working together leads to greater good.
A key message PASAI members will take with them is the significance communicating and collaborating with colleagues, stakeholders and development partners locally strengthens relationships, fortifies trust and maximizes engagement, which, in turn, bolsters accountability and transparency regionally and globally.
While we must say, "Tofa (Tuvaluan for Goodbye)!" to Tuvalu as the 20th PASAI Congress comes to a close, we also express a hearty, "Gude (Tok Pisin for Hello)!" to Papua New Guinea, the location for the next congress, the 21st PASAI Congress, in 2018!
The European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) teamed up with the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA) for a joint seminar in Brussels, Belgium, May 11, 2017. The event, hosted by the Belgian Court of Audit and chaired by Mr. Gijs de Vries, Visiting Senior Fellow at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science, marked the culmination of the EUROSAI-ECIIA cooperation in the 2011-2017 EUROSAI strategic framework.
Sixty-five delegates, including several Heads of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), from 21 EUROSAI members and 15 ECIIA chapters attended the seminar, which focused on relations between SAIs and internal auditors in Europe's public sector.
The ECIIA President and Vice-Chair of EUROSAI (SAI Finland) opened the seminar that included several presentations and discussions from various SAIs and internal auditors, including:
The seminar report, presentations and other cooperation materials, including two new papers on audit committees and national cooperation agreements prepared by the EUROSAI-ECIIA Cooperation committee (2014-2017), can be accessed via EUROSAI's website here, as well as using this bookmark.
EUROSAI collaborated with ECIIA on several issues of common interest on the basis of EUROSAI's strategic plan 2011-2017 (Goal 2-Professional Standards) and cooperation agreements signed in 2011 and 2014, including the implementation of INTOSAI GOV 9150, "Coordination and Cooperation Between SAIs and Internal Auditors in the Public Sector," in Europe. The Court of Audit of Belgium was EUROSAI's operational cooperation lead in addition to serving as a EUROSAI Governing Board Member from 2011-2017. For more information concerning the EUROSAI-ECIIA cooperation 2011-2017 and the 2017 Joint Seminar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Secretary General of the African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI), in partnership with the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), African Organization of Public Accounts Committee (AFROPAC) and Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI), organized an international conference on Illicit Financial Flows May 24-26, 2017, in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Under the theme, "Tackling Illicit Financial Flows (IFF): An African Approach to a Global Phenomenon," the conference enabled participants to develop a common understanding and gain awareness on organizational experiences with illicit financial flows.
The event fostered an open exchange of ideas and specifically allowed attendees to:
Throughout the three-day conference, 254 delegates representing Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), tax officials, parliamentarians, finance ministries and international, non-governmental and civil society organizations came together to participate in presentations, discussions and workshops on IFF's extent, complexity and negative impact; debate on measures to fight the problem; and to show continued commitment to the ongoing effort by signing the Conference Declaration, "Curbing Illicit Financial Flows Through Good Financial Governance: United Against Illicit Financial Flows."
The conference partner organizations were founded to optimize fiscal resource mobilization, improve fiscal transparency, strengthen external auditing of public finances, and develop public finance parliamentary oversight. Their activities are coordinated through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) within the framework of the Good Financial Governance in Africa Program established in 2013 and are financed by the European Union and German government.
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Development Initiative (IDI) and the United Nations (UN) jointly held the "Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) Leadership and Stakeholder Meeting" July 20-21, 2017, at the UN headquarters in New York.
The meeting, which focused on "Auditing Preparedness for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," brought together high-ranking SAI representatives and prominent stakeholders who engaged in an exchange of knowledge and experiences on topical themes and concerns related to the role of SAIs in reviewing the national implementation of SDGs.
The exchange of experiences included a focus on preparedness for SDG implementation from auditors' perspectives, and the INTOSAI General Secretariat shared with participants INTOSAI's contribution to supporting SAIs in this important task.
The need for a comprehensive audit approach; stakeholder engagement in audits; mobilizing means of SDG implementation through audits or the application of indicators were additional topics covered during the two-day event.
The discussions revealed, among others, that:
More than 25 delegates representing 12 Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) came to Bali, Indonesia, to attend the 9th Steering Committee Meeting of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Services Committee (KSC) August 23-25, 2017.
"Deliberations at this meeting are crucial for valuable inputs into the Goal 3 report at the next Governing Board meeting," emphasized Ms. Rita Mitra, SAI India's Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, who opened the meeting as KSC chair representative.
Dr. Moermahadi Soerja Djanegara, Chairman, Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia, welcomed attendees to the three-day event, which focused on KSC updates and working group progress since KSC members last met in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2016. Additionally, INTOSAI-wide initiatives were presented to KSC members with presentations from meeting observers representing the Capacity Building Committee (CBC), INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), INTOSAI General Secretariat (GS), and the Professional Standards Committee (PSC).
Encourage SAI cooperation, collaboration and continuous improvement through knowledge development, sharing and services, including:
Mr. Shashi Kant Sharma, Comptroller and Auditor General, India Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General
China, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Russian Federation, Uganda, United States of America
"Deliberations at this meeting are crucial for valuable inputs into the Goal 3 report at the next Governing Board meeting."
-Ms. Rita Mitra
During the meeting, meaningful deliberations took place on several key topics to include revising the KSC "Terms of Reference (TOR)." Updating the TOR is essential to better align it with INTOSAI's Strategic Plan 2017-2022, the revised Due Process and focus on performance reporting.
The KSC will also give INTOSAI access to dedicated research project outcomes as part of its strategy, and the teams leading the recently undertaken cross-cutting research projects on "Citizen Participation in Public Audit" and "Auditing Emergency Preparedness" presented proposals to KSC members.
Thought-provoking discussions also took place on the newly devised risk register and reporting dashboard. The risk register enables the KSC to manage risk in order to prioritize various action items, while the reporting dashboard, a tool created to communicate working group activities in as brief a format as possible, aims to highlight progress made and key next steps for each objective under the KSC strategic goals.
The dashboard, which also helps identify problem areas that may require attention, is a uniform reporting mechanism devised through Goal Chair Collaboration (GCC). Mr. Jan van Schalkwyk, SAI South Africa, noted the extraordinary work stemming from GCC, which he characterized as one of the most exciting developments to emerge from INCOSAI XXII.
In his update on capacity building activities, Mr. van Schalkwyk emphasized the concept of "global profession, local solutions" reflecting the level of preparedness to support global standards while acknowledging local conditions. He stressed the desire to streamline engagements without overwhelming the regions and added that support to SAIs in fragile situations is crucial.
Ms. Monika Gonzalez Garcia-Koss, representing INTOSAI's GS, commended the goal chairs for their collaborative efforts, as well as their regional coordination and also expressed a true appreciation to all KSC members for their continued commitment, especially during a time of transition, such as migrating to the new Due Process.
Ms. Paula Hebling Dutra, SAI Brazil, explained the modified Due Process, citing the four main stages-project proposal, exposure draft, endorsement version and final pronouncement-and how the process applies to new pronouncements, changes of substance and incorporation of pronouncements issued by other organizations.
She also noted the INTOSAI Framework for Professional Pronouncements (IFPP) and added that the new framework clarifies scope and provides for a systematic review of existing documents.
Improving the credibility of professional pronouncements is a necessity, and the establishment of the Forum for INTOSAI's Professional Pronouncements (FIPP) is the INTOSAI body designated to do just that through professional pronouncement assessment and approval.
Mr. Novy Pelenkahu, SAI Indonesia, represented the FIPP at the KSC meeting. In his briefing, he discussed the FIPP's three priorities: implementing the revised IFPP after 2016; putting guidance into place that supports International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs) by 2019; and strengthening professional pronouncements beyond 2019.
Mr. Pelenkahu identified the importance of liaisons, who, he asserted, work closely with working groups and steering committees throughout Due Process stages to provide consultation and facilitate communication-significant in ensuring a better understanding among all parties.
An effort underway to help facilitate communication and information exchange is revamping the KSC-IDI Community Portal to provide a more auditor-centric, engaging and interactive platform that consolidates working group sites and acts as a hub for all knowledge sharing activities.
Mr. K. S. Subramanian, SAI India, conveyed that the portal's ultimate goal is to provide a single window of access for information.
The IDI presented its ongoing efforts to KSC attendees, including work toward auditing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where SAIs can make tremendous contributions in providing advice, assessing preparedness and monitoring implementation.
In cooperation with the KSC, the IDI developed the "Auditing Preparedness for SDG Implementation" program and has taken steps to scale up the course due to an immense demand (more than 100 SAIs in all INTOSAI regions have indicated interest in participating).
The program, designed to support SAIs in conducting ISSAI-based cooperative performance audits on SDG implementation preparedness in national contexts, is one of several programs and events taking place on the SDG front.
Ms. Garcia-Koss pointed out a high-level SAI leadership and stakeholder meeting jointly coordinated by the IDI and United Nations (UN) that took place earlier this year at UN headquarters in New York, which included active participation among KSC, CBC and INTOSAI GS representatives.
The KSC meeting's final agenda items included each working group providing status and progress updates, adding to the KSC's longstanding tradition of rich information exchange.
As the event drew to a close, Mr. Maxwell Ogentho, SAI Uganda, communicated a welcome message from his Auditor General, Mr. John F. S. Muwanga, and presented a video highlighting all that Uganda, and its capital city of Kampala, have to offer-as the next KSC meeting is set to be hosted there in August/September 2018.