Inside INTOSAI

International Journal of Auditing - July 2003

Second Meeting of INTOSAI Strategic Planning Task Force

The international task force developing a strategic plan for INTOSAI made major strides during its April 29-30, 2003, meeting in Washington, D.C. The 2-day gathering followed up on the first meeting of the task force in April 2002, at which the task force developed the framework for a strategic plan to guide the work of INTOSAI. The draft strategic planning framework was circulated to INTOSAI’s 185 member countries for review and comment and approved by INTOSAI’s governing board in October 2002. The goal of the April 2003 meeting was to further develop the strategic goals outlined in the framework so that a “straw” draft strategic plan can be developed. After a round of review and comment, the draft strategic plan will be submitted to INTOSAI’s governing board in October 2003 for approval. The final plan will be voted upon at INTOSAI’s next congress, set for October 2004 in Budapest, Hungary.

Strategic Planning Task Force members
Strategic Planning Task Force members at April 2003 meeting in Washington, D.C.

The task force reached agreement on three strategic goals:

  • Professional standards: leading by example and promoting the development and adoption of appropriate professional standards in each member country.
  • Institutional capacity building: training, technical assistance, and other development activities.
  • Knowledge sharing: benchmarking, best practice studies, and research on issues of mutual interest and concern.

The three strategic goals and related efforts will help INTOSAI achieve its vision of promoting good government by enabling SAIs “to help their respective governments improve performance, enhance transparency, ensure accountability, maintain credibility, fight corruption, and foster the efficient and effective receipt and use of public resources for the benefit of their citizens.” The task force also discussed a number of governance issues designed to bring the organization into the 21st century. Among other things, the proposal would fold numerous existing INTOSAI committees and working groups into three standing committees aligned with the strategic goals.

The task force included auditors general (AG) or assistant AGs from 10 nations spanning the globe: Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Burkina Faso, South Korea, Norway, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Tonga, United Kingdom, and the United States.

For more information on the Task Force, contact the chair at: Strategic Planning and External Liaison, Room 7814, U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20548, U.S.A.; fax: ++(202) 512-4021; or email: spel@gao.gov.

New Web Page for Working Group on Environmental Auditing

The Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) has established a new Web page that can be accessed at either of the following addresses: www.environmental-auditing.org or www.environmental-auditing.ca.

This site contains several new features, including a searchable list of Working Group publications available in the official INTOSAI languages – Arabic, English, French, German, and Spanish. You can also visit the Learning Center, which includes information on the Environmental Auditing Training Program that is being developed by the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) and the WGEA.

If you follow this path on the Web site – Home > About the WGEA > Members List, you will find information on your organization. If there are any errors in the contact listed for your supreme audit institution (SAI), please let us know at: environmental.auditing@oag-bvg.gc.ca. Your comments and suggestions to improve the Web site will also be welcome.

The SAI of the Netherlands produced most of the information contained on the Web site and Canadian SAI staff—Liliane Cotnoir, Sylvie McDonald, James Reinhart, and the office’s IT team—did the principal work on reviewing the Web site.

The WGEA, which is chaired by Mrs. Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of Canada, aims to improve the use of audit mandate and audit instruments in the field of environmental protection policies by both members of the Working Group and nonmember SAIs. The Working Group has a special interest in joint SAI audits of cross-border environmental issues and policies and the audit of international environmental accords.

16th UN/INTOSAI Seminar in Vienna

From March 31 through April 4, 2003, the United Nations (UN) and the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) hosted their 16th joint seminar at the Vienna International Center, the seat of the UN in Vienna.

The seminar, which was organized by the Austrian Court of Audit in its function as the General Secretariat of INTOSAI, focused on the role of supreme audit institutions in auditing the use of government funds for education.

Fifty delegates attended the event, among them members of supreme audit institutions from developing countries as well as Central and Eastern European reform countries. Speakers came from the United Nations, the World Bank, and the supreme audit institutions of France, India, Spain, and Austria. A representative of the National Audit Office, the United Kingdom’s supreme audit institution, chaired the seminar.

During the seminar, the delegates and speakers held in-depth discussions on the following topics:

  • scope and methods of auditing education spending,
  • audit of government spending on mandatory education,
  • audit of vocational education,
  • audit of grants and subsidies in college and university education, and
  • evaluation of education programs.

In addition, the supreme audit institutions of Eritrea, Macedonia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Senegal, and St. Kitts and Nevis reported on audits of education spending in their countries. In their reports, the seminar participants provided valuable insights into the tasks and possibilities of supreme audit institutions in auditing education spending, and exchanged information about successes and difficulties encountered in such audits.

The discussions following the keynote speeches gave the participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and identify key aspects of education audits. Several working groups at the seminar afforded the participants a setting for sharing their experiences in a smaller forum, going into more detail on issues brought to their attention during the discussions, and arriving at conclusions and recommendations.

16th UN/INTOSAI Seminar participants in Vienna.
16th UN/INTOSAI Seminar participants in Vienna.

Seminar participants considered the following issues particularly important:

  • the importance of universal literacy as the basis for all further education and self-development;

  • the creation of legal and administrative frameworks designed to prevent mismanagement in the funding and implementation of government education programs;<
  • the training and further education of auditors to increase the expertise and skills needed to detect weaknesses in implementing government education programs;
  • the availability of reliable data as a basis for audits and evaluations;
  • value-for-money audits in education, taking into account financial, economic, and social aspects;
  • the expertise and skills auditors need to perform value-for-money audits; and
  • the integration of the supreme audit institutions in negotiations between donor organizations and recipients of funds earmarked for the education sector.

Special attention was focused on the fact that auditors need both audit-related methodological skills and expertise regarding the area to be audited in order to successfully audit the effectiveness and efficiency of public funding in education.

Upon completion, the report on the 16th UN/INTOSAI seminar will be available on the INTOSAI Web site at www.intosai.org.