Inside INTOSAI

International Journal of Government Auditing – July 2013

UN–INTOSAI Symposium Held in Vienna, Austria

The United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the INTOSAI General Secretariat held their 22nd biennial symposium March 5–7, 2013, in Vienna, Austria. In attendance were more than 150 participants from more than 60 countries, including more than 40 heads of SAIs. The symposium theme was “Audit and Advisory Activities by SAIs: Risks and Opportunities, as well as Possibilities for Engaging Citizens.” The SAI of India was technical chair for the event.

Participants in the UN-INTOSAI symposium.
Participants in the UN-INTOSAI symposium.

The primary theme was divided into three subthemes:

  • “Audit and Counseling by SAIs: Requirements and Opportunities for Government Auditing,” chaired by the SAI of China;
  • “Risks and Opportunities of Audit and Counseling by SAIs,” chaired by the SAI of South Africa; and
  • “Effectiveness and Transparency of Audit and Counseling through the Participation of Citizens,” chaired by UN DESA.

Dr. Josef Moser, INTOSI General Secretary, opened the symposium by recognizing that in constrained budgetary times, citizens are justifiably asking how public governance can be more effective and efficient and how SAIs can contribute to that process.

“Recent developments have revealed an increasing need for strong and efficient external government audit. In various respects, citizens long for strong, effective control bodies to be able to detect and avoid ill-directed developments early on.

Pinpointing shortcomings and deficiencies retrospectively is no longer sufficient. The question as to the added value and the impact of control institutions is gaining ever more ground.

Therefore, there is a growing need for SAIs to engage in future-oriented counseling alongside retrospective auditing. In this process, the principles of the Lima and Mexico declarations must in no way be compromised. On the contrary, only if this is heeded will it be possible to reach our principal aim, which is the best possible use of public funds in a credible and objective manner.”

He further outlined three objectives for the symposium:

  • identifying ways for SAIs to improve the economy and efficiency of public governance,
  • highlighting measures that will maximize opportunity and minimize risk in that effort; and
  • highlighting useful methods that will serve as best practices.

Representatives from the UN; Wu Hongbo and Elia Armstrong
Representatives from the UN addressed the symposium.

In his opening statement, Wu Hongbo, UN Undersecretary for Economic and Social Affairs, emphasized the importance of good governance as a key element of sustainable development:

“The United Nations and the international community recognize that economic growth, social development and environmental protection form the three pillars of sustainable development. Cross-cutting, effective, and efficient public administration is also critical in supporting the three pillars.

Some experts suggest that good governance is the fourth pillar of sustainable development. I agree. Good governance strengthens and reinforces the inter-linkages of the social, economic, and environmental pillars and ensures that the future we want is translated into reality.”

Over the 3 days of presentations, various speakers addressed aspects of audit and counseling. Many presentations highlighted how counseling differs from the purely retrospective identification of shortcomings and deficiencies of many audit approaches. Counseling calls for offering both auditees and government managers specific recommendations that can be practically implemented to improve economy and efficiency.

Representatives from Vietnam attending the symposium.
Representatives from Vietnam attending the symposium.

To be useful such recommendations must be

  • stated clearly and focused on solutions,
  • addressed to the appropriate parties who have the requisite authority for action,
  • vigorously defended by the SAI when challenged, and
  • useful beyond the purposes of the immediate audit.

The meeting concluded by encouraging SAIs to support UN General Resolution 66/209, Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions. Participants also generally agreed that by using advisory and counseling approaches in additional to traditional auditing skills, SAIs can significantly contribute to the effective and efficient enhancement of good governance.

For the complete agenda and links to the presentations, conclusions, and recommendations, see http://www.intosai.org/events/unintosai-seminars/22nd-unintosaisymposium/ program.html.


Capacity Building Committee: A Global Call for SAIs to Register Experts in the INTOSAI Experts and Specialists Database

Subcommittee 2 of the Capacity Building Committee (CBC)—Develop Advisory and Consultant Services—has developed the INTOSAI Experts and Specialists Database to help INTOSAI members identify professionals from different SAIs with expertise in specific auditing fields. SAIs can contact these experts to promote knowledge sharing and capacity building.

Many tools and possibilities exist to share the experience of SAI experts and specialists for the benefit of the INTOSAI community. Therefore, Subcommittee 2, which is chaired by the SAI of Peru, is encouraging all SAIs to register in the database qualified working and retired professionals in government audit from their institutions.

To accomplish this, Subcommittee 2 is requesting that individual INTOSAI members appoint a liaison officer and authorize that person to register two or more qualified professionals. The appointed officer should send Subcommittee 2 an e-mail at cooperacion@contraloria.gob.pe to request a username and password to open an account. The account will be opened immediately and, subsequently, access to the database will be granted for consultations and ongoing registration of experts.

For additional information, contact Subcommittee 2 at cooperacion@contraloria.gob.pe.


Second Global Call for SAI Capacity Development Proposals to Be Launched in October 2013

During the fifth INTOSAI-Donor Steering Committee meeting in October 2012, it was decided that the Global Calls for Proposals to promote SAI capacity development will be carried out annually at fixed intervals. The second Global Call for Proposals will be launched at the sixth INTOSAI-Donor Steering Committee meeting, October 18–19, 2013, in Beijing. SAIs in countries eligible for official development assistance (ODA) can apply, as can INTOSAI regions/subregions and INTOSAI committees, subcommittees, and working groups that submit proposals for initiatives designed primarily to benefit SAIs in ODA-eligible countries.

During the first round, 55 proposals were submitted. While the matching process is still ongoing, to date 12 proposals have resulted in projects in progress, another 3 have had financing approved, and applicants and development partners are in ongoing dialogue on 14 additional proposals. The 2013 Global Call for Proposals will be a twostage process in which applicants first submit a concept note with an outline of the suggested project and then develop this into a more comprehensive proposal if there is interest from providers of support. The INTOSAI-Donor Secretariat will coordinate the process and support applicants in developing concept notes and proposals. In connection with this second round, the INTOSAI-Donor Secretariat has invited the INTOSAI regions and subregions to explore the demand for regional training on writing needs-based capacity development proposals for member SAIs.

The templates for concept notes and proposals are already available on http://www.idi.no/artikkel.aspx?MId1=105&AId=628 in English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.

For additional information, please contact intosai.donor.secretariat@idi.no.


Working Group on the Value and Benefits of SAIs Shares Draft Communications Guideline

To help maximize the effectiveness of SAIs in communicating the results of their work, INTOSAI’s Working Group on the Value and Benefits of SAIs has produced an exposure draft of a communications guideline for use by SAIs. This guideline, entitled Communicating and Promoting the Value and Benefits of SAIs: An INTOSAI Guideline, describes the different approaches and tools SAIs can use to communicate and interact with citizens and other stakeholders. The guideline draws from INTOSAI’s Communication Policy, the recommendations of the June 2011 UN–INTOSAI Vienna Symposium, and the external communication practices of INTOSAI members. It focuses on key communication principles, and the use of instruments and tools for external communication, including approaches to fostering constructive interactions with citizens.

The exposure draft was recently presented at the 22nd UN/INTOSAI Symposium in Vienna, Austria, on March 3, 2013. Comments were received both at the symposium and during the general comment period from January 16–April 1, 2013, and will be analyzed and incorporated into the guideline. In general, the comments affirmed the value of the guideline and the approach it takes to providing a framework for considering how SAIs can communicate in today’s world of widely varied audiences and rapidly evolving communications vehicles. Appreciation was expressed for the guideline’s emphasis on (1) the flexibility afforded each SAI to apply the guideline in the context of its own structure and environment, (2) the importance of two-way communication with citizens and other stakeholders, and (3) the recognition of the many different means of communicating available to SAIs. Technical and other suggestions were made as well.

The revised guideline will be presented at the July meeting of the Working Group on the Value and Benefits of SAIs in Lima, Peru. Following consideration by the working group, plans will be made for presenting the guideline for discussion and potential approval at the November INCOSAI in Beijing, China.

The project team within the working group responsible for the development of the guideline consists of five SAIs: the United States (project coordinator), Austria, Israel, People’s Republic of China, and United Republic of Tanzania; two partnering organizations joined the project team as well: the International Budget Partnership and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

For additional information, please contact Terence Nombembe, chair of the working group, at agsa@agsa.co.za.


Meeting of the INTOSAI Finance and Administration Committee

On May 29–30, the U.S. Government Accountability Office hosted the ninth INTOSAI Finance and Administration Committee (FAC) meeting in Washington, D.C. Representatives from the INTOSAI General Secretariat and the SAIs of China, Ecuador, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the United States attended. At the meeting, committee chair Osama Faquih of Saudi Arabia summarized FAC accomplishments, drawing particular attention to the work associated with monitoring the implementation of the strategic plan, progress with the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation and SAI database, an evaluation of INTOSAI finances, and the work of the Task Force on Financial Foresight (TFFF).

Participants in the ninth INTOSAI Finance and Administration Committee meeting in
Washington, D.C.
Participants in the ninth INTOSAI Finance and Administration Committee meeting in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Josef Moser, INTOSAI general secretary, provided a number of updates since the 63rd Governing Board meeting. Most notably, Dr. Moser discussed INTOSAI’s need to be able to work with and respond to international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

Jørgen Kosmo of Norway, chair of the TFFF, highlighted the task force’s work on strategic planning, emerging issues, and financial issues. After much discussion, the committee recognized that INTOSAI has evolved into a more dynamic organization with greater recognition from other international bodies. Therefore, the committee believes INTOSAI would benefit from more flexibility in maintaining its finances and receiving additional support from its members in achieving its strategic goals and objectives.

With regard to strategic planning, Chris Mihm of the United States discussed planning assumptions for the strategic plan that have emerged from preliminary discussions with the INTOSAI Director of Strategic Planning and others. He also discussed the initial steps the Task Force on Strategic Planning is planning to take before and immediately after the upcoming XXI INCOSAI in Beijing.

Mr. Faquih discussed the progress and achievements of the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation since the last FAC meeting in October 2012.The achievements include increased interest from the global development community in partnering with INTOSAI in this unique initiative. Mr. Faquih noted the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Agency for International Development, and the GAVI Alliance at the fifth steering committee meeting. In addition, he announced that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria signed the MOU in February 2013, thereby becoming the 20th donor signatory.

Carlos Pólit from Ecuador gave the committee insight into regional perspectives on the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation and reported on recent accomplishments of OLACEFS.

Gene Dodaro of the United States reported on the status of the International Journal of Government Auditing and the importance of technology in its future.

Juan Portal of Mexico highlighted the latest developments with the SAI database, including progress with the comprehensive survey and essential electronic elements of the database.

Terence Nombembe of South Africa presented information on the SAI performance measurement framework.

Zhou Weipei of China reported on progress in the preparations for the XXI INCOSAI in Beijing.

For additional information contact the FAC chair at gab@gab.gov.sa.


AFROSAI’s Working Group on Environmental Auditing Holds Third Meeting

The AFROSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (AWGEA) and its steering committee held the group’s third meeting April 14–18, 2013, in Cairo. Forty-three members from 17 African countries attended the meeting in addition to representatives from international organizations (such as FAO and GIZ) and the SAI of Indonesia, the incoming chair of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing.

The meeting was preceded by a training course on mining. The meeting itself covered subjects including issues of corruption and fraud in environmental auditing, the state of African waters and future challenges, and the environmental cooperative audit on the River Nile Basin. The ARABOSAI Working Team on Environmental Auditing also submitted its report during the meeting.

For additional information, contact the SAI of Egypt at ircdept@yahoo.com.

New EUROSAI Publication Shares Good Practices Among SAIs

How do you get to know what is new and innovative in European SAIs? As part of the work of the EUROSAI goal team responsible for identifying and disseminating best capacity-building practices, EUROSAI has recently released the first issue of EUROSAI Innovations: Sharing Good Practices among Supreme Audit Institutions. It is available online in English at http://www.nik.gov.pl/plik/id,4812,vp,6255.pdf. The publication provides a forum for European SAIs to publicize what they consider their most interesting recent innovations.

Fifteen SAIs sent in some 43 different examples for the first edition. The examples include work in Lithuania on following up on recommendations, work in France to make internal training events available via videoconferencing to other French-speaking SAIs, efforts in Germany to increase budget transparency and in Estonia to reduce ecological footprints, and work in the United Kingdom on helping governments take a structured approach to reducing spending.

Each entry is brief—rarely more than three to four paragraphs. As part of democratizing knowledge transfer, individual e-mail addresses are provided so anyone wanting more information can get in touch directly with those responsible for the innovation.

The publication is already being translated into French and Spanish and will likely be translated into more languages in the future. At this stage, a second edition is planned for January 2013. EUROSAI plans to follow up to assess the publication’s usefulness and whether readers have contacted those responsible for the innovations.

For more information, contact abaldacchino@ccomptes.fr.


Young EUROSAI Conference in The Hague

In June 2014, the Netherlands Court of Audit (NCA) will be the proud host of the IX EUROSAI congress in The Hague, The Netherlands. In the run-up to the congress, the NCA will be holding a Young EUROSAI (YES) conference in Rotterdam, November 20–22, 2013.

The YES team.
The YES team.

The YES conference will have the same theme—innovation—as the IX EUROSAI congress, and it will inform the congress of the views of younger generations and possible future leaders of EUROSAI members. This is an excellent opportunity for young staff members to bring forward new ideas and to exchange their knowledge with their European peers.

Both the EUROSAI 2014 congress and the YES conference will put the theme into practice. In addition to short plenary lectures and presentations, participants can look forward to hands-on activities. The YES conference will be an interactive experience with creative interventions, including workshops by EUROSAI members to search for innovative solutions to the challenges facing SAIs. It will provide an exceptional networking and relationship-building opportunity.

The NCA is confident that a new generation of government auditors will be able to add their own—and highly relevant—agenda to the proceedings at EUROSAI 2014. The idea is for young SAI professionals to work together during the YES conference so that they inspire each other and return home with a new network of invaluable contacts.

From preparation to evaluation, the YES conference is being organized by young NCA professionals. From each SAI, two young professionals, age 35 and under, are invited to join the YES conference.

For more information on the IX EUROSAI congress and the YES conference, please go to http://www.eurosai2014.nl.

Dialogue between OLACEFS and Multilateral Organizations

In February 2013, Minister Augusto Nardes, the President of OLACEFS and the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), visited a group of multilateral institutions and SAIs to initiate discussions about cooperation initiatives and establish connections with entities with the potential to be important partners with OLACEFS in the exchange of knowledge and support for institutional development projects.

T

he main meetings took place in the Organization of American States (OAS), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the UN Secretariat, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). At each meeting, OLACEFS’ main plans and projects were presented, with a special emphasis on capacity building. Participants discussed the possibility of boosting capacity-building programs using coordinated audits to enhance their impact. This type of audit allows methodological and technical knowledge to be applied to real-life problems and results in a concrete product—an audit report—that is specific to the sector and region.

The German agency GIZ has been an important partner in supporting the first coordinated audits performed in OLACEFS. Now OLACEFS is seeking other partners to broaden and disseminate these initiatives. Coordinated audits can be an important component of multilateral cooperation because they provide (1) a good balance between commitments and benefits among participants, (2) gains in scale and cost sharing, and (3) timetables, check points, and concrete results that provide good indicators to measure outputs.

Minister Augusto Nardes, President of OLACEFS, and OAS Secretary General, José Miguel
Insulza.
Minister Augusto Nardes, President of OLACEFS, and OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza.

By supporting specific training events, forming professional networks with OLACEFS SAIs, facilitating the participation of experts, and engaging in a common agenda, multilateral organizations and experienced SAIs can not only make significant contributions to the improvement of governmental auditing within Latin America and the Caribbean but also reap the benefits of learning for their own organizations.

For additional information, contact the TCU at olacefs@tcu.gov.br.


XXIII OLACEFS General Assembly to Be Held in Chile

Preparations are being made for the OLACEFS annual meeting in Santiago, Chile, in December 2013.

The meeting will address administrative and management matters pertaining to OLACEFS and updates on initiatives of various technical bodies in OLACEFS, such as the establishment of a knowledge management system and the progress of the regional training system. The General Assembly will also discuss four technical topics whose presentation was approved during the previous meeting in Brasilia in November 2012. These topics are (1) a Toolbox for the Control of Corruption being prepared by the Commission on Public Ethics, Administrative Probity, and Transparency, to be presented by the SAI of Chile, (2) environmental issues resulting from the destruction of biodiversity, to be presented by the SAI of Argentina, (3) the impact of applying the Performance Management Framework in an SAI of the region, to be presented by the SAI of Peru, and (4) citizen participation in fiscal control, to be presented by the SAI of Costa Rica.

For additional information, contact OLACEFS at relacionesinternacionales@contraloria.cl.