Inside INTOSAI

International Journal of Auditing – October 2003

OCCEFS Capacity Building Program in Central America

The Organization for the Superior Audit Institutions of Central America and the Caribbean (OCCEFS) has obtained a grant from the World Bank to build capacity in the region. The project is being coordinated by the Costa Rican SAI because the agreement was reached and signed during the OCCEFS Presidency of Mr. Luis Fernando Vargas, Comptroller General of this country. Mr. Hernan Contreras, President of the Audit Court of El Salvador, has been recently appointed as the new Chairman of OCCEFS.

Within the framework agreement, each country is expected to develop its own technical component for the project, which will be shared with the rest of the members of OCCEFS: The topics are as follows:

  • Costa Rica: Accountability and Active Citizenship
  • Honduras: Internal Control
  • El Salvador: Government Auditing Standards
  • Dominican Republic: Internal Control
  • Nicaragua: Local Government Auditing Guides
  • Panama: Environmental Auditing
  • Guatemala has recently been reintegrated into the project after 2 years of absence.

The countries are also actively involved in setting up a regional Web site (www.occefs.org) that will display local projects and share information. The Web site was successfully launched at a recent workshop in San Jose, Costa Rica, with representatives from the different countries in attendance.

In September 2003, OCCEFS met in Guatemala to share results of the project and obtain feedback. World Bank authorities have expressed satisfaction with progress on the project resulting from the regional effort of the authorities of these institutions.

For additional information, contact: OCCEFS at webmanager@cgr.go.cr.

INTOSAI Working Group on the Audit of Privatization

The Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic hosted the 10th meeting of the Working Group on the Audit of Privatization on June 9-10, 2003, in Prague. Sir John Bourn, Comptroller and Auditor General of the United Kingdom, chaired the meeting, which was attended by representatives of 29 SAIs (out of a total working group membership of 39). Sadly, Dr. Lubomir Volenik, the President of the Czech Supreme Audit Office, passed away unexpectedly shortly before the meeting.

The working group was guided by the remit set for it at XVII INCOSAI, where SAIs agreed that in the period leading up to XVIII INCOSAI in Budapest in 2004, the working group should focus its efforts on

  • monitoring the effectiveness of the guidelines adopted by INTOSAI and
  • developing future audit guidance as necessary (for example, on audit issues arising in the field of partnerships and where the state is a minority shareholder, and on alternatives to regulation).

At the Prague meeting, a number of SAIs gave presentations, papers, and comments relating to the effectiveness of the working group’s existing guidelines, which cover three areas: the audit of privatization; the audit of economic regulation; and the audit of public-private finance and concessions. SAIs again reported that they found the guidelines useful in carrying out their audit work.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the group’s founding, the U.K. SAI presented a paper called “Privatisation: 10 Years On,” which outlined the achievements of the working group to date. These include the production of the three aforementioned sets of guidelines and the delivery of over 50 papers on member states’ experiences in auditing privatization. The presentation also picked out various key messages that had emerged in the group’s first 10 years, including the conclusion that context is crucial when applying the guidelines. Members agreed that the presentation should be developed into a paper to be delivered at XVIII INCOSAI.

The group discussed for the second time a second draft of guidelines on the audit of risk in public/private partnerships (PPPs). In light of these discussions, the guidelines will be amended and submitted to XVIII INCOSAI for formal approval. The group also assessed different proposals for developing training for SAIs in the use of the guidelines and agreed to establish a Training Steering Committee in partnership with the INTOSAI Development Initiative.

The working group will hold its next meeting in 2004 in Sofia, Bulgaria. More information on the working group, including its guidelines on best practice in auditing various aspects of privatization, is available on its website at http://www.nao.gov.uk/intosai/wgap.

Annual Meeting of INTOSAI Public Debt Committee

The Annual Meeting of INTOSAI’s Public Debt Committee was held in Mexico City from June 23-24, 2003. This committee is headed by Mr. Arturo González-de Aragón, Auditor General of Mexico. Twenty-seven delegates from 11 member countries attended the meeting: Canada, the Fiji Islands, Gabon, Mexico, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zambia. Representatives of IDI attended the meeting as special guests.

Studies of Public Debt Issues

As part of the committee’s ongoing efforts to provide INTOSAI members with reference documents on public debt issues, members presented the following studies during the meeting:

  • Guidance for Using Substantive Tests in Audits of Public Debt (United States)
  • Relationship Between Debt Management Audit Methodology and INTOSAI Audit Standards (United Kingdom)
  • Report on the Results of the Internal Working Group on Auditing Fiscal Exposures (Sweden)
  • Report on the Auditing of Public Debt in the South Pacific Region of INTOSAI (Fiji Islands)
  • Report on the Main Problems Related to Public Debt Faced by the Russian Federation (Russian Federation)
  • The committee also agreed to prepare three new studies on the following topics:

  • Mexico will analyze performance audits of public debt and their terms of reference based on the experience of other INTOSAI members, particularly the United States and Canada.
  • Portugal will conduct a comparative analysis of public debt regulations among
    INTOSAI member countries.
  • The United Kingdom will conduct an investigation on contingent public debt in
    INTOSAI member countries.

The three countries will present the results of their studies at the next annual meeting of the Public Debt Committee in 2004.

During the meeting, the attendees were also informed that the German, Spanish, English and French versions of the following documents have been published: Public Debt Management and Fiscal Vulnerability: Potential Roles for SAIs (prepared by Canada) and Fiscal Exposures: Implications for Debt Management and the Role for SAIs (prepared by the United States). These documents are available on the committee’s web page: www.intosaipdc.org.mx. The Arabic version is scheduled to be published at the end of 2003.

Capacity Building Activities of Public Debt Committee

As reported in earlier issues of the Journal, the Public Debt Committee has undertaken, under the initiative of Mr. González-de Aragón, the ambitious task of launching a pilot training program on public debt audits within the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) in coordination with IDI. After pilot testing is completed, the course will be translated and made available to other INTOSAI regions. Progress on this program was reported and discussed at the annual meeting.

The first two phases of the pilot program have been completed. First, from April 28- May 30, 2003, a Regional Workshop for Public Debt Auditors was held in Mexico City for 24 representatives from 12 Latin American SAIs: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The main goal of this workshop was to train instructors so that OLACEFS could count on a qualified group of experts to pass on their knowledge to colleagues in their own countries.

Second, 7 of the 24 experts involved in the initial workshop were invited to participate in the Regional Course Design Meeting, which was held in Brasilia, Brazil, from August 18-29, 2003. The purpose of the Course Design Meeting was to prepare the documents to be used during the pilot course, which is scheduled to be held in Cartagena, Colombia, from October 27-November 7, 2003. The 7 experts were chosen with an eye to disseminating the public debt auditing expertise across the region.

The next annual meeting of the Public Debt Committee will be in the May-June 2004 time frame in Moscow, Russian Federation.