International Journal of Government Auditing – October 2011
The 21st UN/INTOSAI Symposium, jointly organized by the INTOSAI General Secretariat and the United Nations (UN), was held in Vienna, Austria, July 13–15, 2011. The symposium focused on effective practices of cooperation between supreme audit institutions (SAI) and citizens to enhance public accountability.
About 140 representatives of 66 SAIs attended, along with representatives of various international organizations, including the UN, the Inter Parliamentary Union, the International Budget Partnership, and GIZ (the German development organization).
For the first time in the symposium’s history, a UN Under-Secretary-General participated in the event. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, made remarks and met with symposium participants. Carman Lapointe, UN Under-Secretary-General for the Office of Internal Oversight Services, was also present as an observer.
Dr. Josef Moser, INTOSAI General Secretary and Auditor General of Austria, opened the symposium and welcomed participants. The symposium sessions covered three themes: (1) communication between SAIs and citizens, (2) forms of citizen participation in government auditing, and (3) values and benefits of cooperation between SAIs, parliaments and citizens. Osama Jafar Faqeeh, President of the General Auditing Bureau of Saudi Arabia, served as theme 1 chair; a UN representative served as theme 2 chair; and Terence Nombembe, Chairman of the INTOSAI Governing Board and Auditor General of South Africa, served as chair for theme 3.
The symposium featured presentations by 26 representatives of SAIs, as well as representatives of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
The symposium contributed to the implementation of the following strategic priorities in the INTOSAI Strategic Plan 2011–2016:
The symposium reflected the ongoing cooperation and partnership between INTOSAI and the UN. In its concluding session, symposium participants made several recommendations to enhance public accountability through cooperation between SAIs and citizens. The recommendations included the following:
The full set of conclusions and recommendations is available at: www.intosai.org/blueline/upload/18conclusions200711e.pdf.
The Steering Committee of the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) held its 8th meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, June 22–24, 2011. At the meeting, delegates discussed initiatives related to raising awareness of the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI), carrying out the ISSAI harmonization project, and maintaining the ISSAIs and INTOSAI Guidance on Good Governance (INTOSAI GOV).
The delegates from Bahrain and Poland gave presentations on their experiences with awareness-raising events in ARABOSAI and EUROSAI, respectively. Their presentations were followed by extensive knowledge sharing on other ISSAI awareness-raising events and activities. The delegates welcomed the news about various initiatives and acknowledged achievements to date. They also emphasized the need to accelerate the work, include aspects of implementation, and focus on all four levels of the ISSAI framework. The PSC Secretariat was encouraged to gather information on different ways the PSC Web site can be used to implement the ISSAIs and support knowledge sharing. The Secretariat would also greatly appreciate receiving more information about member SAIs’ experiences related to implementing and using the ISSAIs and requests that relevant information on these topics be forwarded to the PSC at email@example.com.
The ISSAI Awareness-Raising Task Force will keep track of already planned INTOSAI events, in particular regional events, and seize these opportunities to promote the ISSAI framework. The PSC wishes to employ a demand-driven strategy in which it is seen as a willing assistant and active participant in awareness-raising activities that INTOSAI members plan and organize. In connection with this, the task force has developed a set of standard presentations on the ISSAIs that SAIs can use. The presentations can be found on the PSC Web site. All materials are available in English and some are also available in INTOSAI’s other official languages.
The delegates emphasized the critical importance of the ISSAI harmonization project, approved at the XX INCOSAI in Johannesburg, in supporting the successful implementation of the ISSAIs among INTOSAI members. The project’s overall objective is to revise the text of ISSAIs 100–400, fundamental auditing principles, and develop the ISSAIs into a more coherent set of standards. The PSC Steering Committee’s intention is that the revised fundamental auditing principles should provide a better overview of the full set of ISSAIs, including the implementation guidelines on financial, performance, and compliance auditing (ISSAIs 1000–4999). The INTOSAI family’s full support of the revised fundamental auditing principles is essential for the project to succeed, and various means of communication (including the ISSAI Web site) will be employed to keep INTOSAI members updated on project developments.
In November 2010, the XX INCOSAI endorsed the due process for INTOSAI’s professional standards, which defines, among other things, responsibilities for maintaining the ISSAIs and INTOSAI GOVs. The Steering Committee delegates discussed the implementation of these requirements and agreed that the relevant subcommittees should decide on the frequency of maintenance reviews and publish the maintenance frequency on www.issai.org before November 2011.
All reports and additional meeting materials can be found on the PSC Web site (www.psc-intosai.org) under “PSC SC.”
Under the Chairmanship of Dr. Ahmed El Midaoui, the Capacity Building Committee (CBC) is strengthening its links with the INTOSAI regions. Over the next few years, one of the CBC’s key activities will be helping support and strengthen regionally based capacity-building activities. To launch this process, all regions were invited to participate in the June 2011 meeting of CBC Subcommittee 1 (Promote Increased Capacity Building Activities among INTOSAI Members) at the United Kingdom’s National Audit Office in London. The regional delegations gave presentations showing how their regions are supporting capacity building, what activities are planned, and what are the main challenges being faced. The few regions unable to attend sent PowerPoint presentations to assist with the discussions.
These presentations confirmed the vibrancy of the regions and the extent of their innovations in the design and delivery of capacity-building activities. Most are running regional training courses for audit and corporate support staff and senior managers, as well as developing regional audits. Their innovations include the following:
The presentations also revealed opportunities for getting more out of this work and achieving greater effectiveness and efficiency, something dear to our hearts as auditors! Many regions have been developing quality assurance guides and training courses, but few outside of each region knew of these developments and were making use of them. In the future, it may be possible to increase resource sharing and reduce cost and duplication by involving several regions when developing new programs or materials.
Similarly, it was evident that some regions have been better able than others to obtain the resources to build up their support systems and recruit more regional staff. There are opportunities to share lessons learned in securing and managing regional resources and running efficient regional capacity-building programs. Also, regional capacity-building Web sites can be improved by identifying, disseminating, and applying best practices. The meeting also highlighted issues around access to subject matter expertise, communication difficulties caused by distance and language differences, and a lack of follow up and evaluation of training and capacity-building activities.
From the ensuing discussions, the subcommittee added the following to its action plan for the period leading up to XXI INCOSAI in China in 2013:
This meeting was an important step in working out new ways in which INTOSAI and the regions can better work together. Participants want to see continued efforts to collaborate during future subcommittee meetings. The Board of Audit of Japan has generously offered to host the next meeting of Subcommittee 1 in Tokyo, June 14–15, 2012.
For additional information, contact the subcommittee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The third annual meeting of the CBC’s Subcommittee 2 (Develop Advisory and Consultancy Services) was held in Lima, Peru, August 31–September 1, 2011. During the meeting, the SAI of Morocco summarized the activities of the CBC’s three subcommittees in accordance with the INTOSAI strategic plan and highlighted the importance of their work. In addition, the SAIs of Peru and Pakistan presented progress reports on Subcommittee 2 activities. The SAI of Germany submitted a final report on standardizing guidelines on cooperative audits. The SAIs of Pakistan, Morocco, and Peru discussed strategies to carry out the three lines of activities that constitute the subcommittee’s work: developing and promoting a database of experts, coordinated and joint or parallel audits, and internships and visitor programs.
The SAI of Peru, Chair of Subcommittee 2, presented working papers on the development of an INTOSAI database of experts. The members of the subcommittee agreed to disseminate this important tool within INTOSAI and expand the database’s listing of experts on government audit. Therefore, INTOSAI community members are encouraged to contact the subcommittee at email@example.com to request a username and password so that they can register their experts in the database. Current database users can both register and search for experts at https://apps.contraloria.gob.pe/intosai/.
The SAI of Pakistan offered to include new provisions into the guidelines for internship programs and prepare a proposal outlining a standard agreement for these programs.
For additional information, contact the subcommittee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
INTOSAI’s Working Group on Public Debt (WGPD) is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2011. Since its creation in 1991, the WGPD has carried out specialized research and generated and published guidelines and other products to encourage sound reporting and proper auditing and management of public debt.
The National Audit Office of Lithuania (NAO), a member of the WGPD since 1996, hosted this year’s meeting, which took place in a time when the current financial crisis has made public debt—in particular its rapid growth and implications for general fiscal stability—an issue of primary importance for many countries. Public debt has posed many unexpected challenges to governments as well as their SAIs.
In this context, Lithuanian Auditor General Giedrė Švedienė, noted the following during her opening address at the WGPD meeting: “Such [a] situation demands that SAIs redouble their efforts to help provide accountability for their governments, to ensure transparency of borrowing, [and to] look for more effective ways to manage the debt. The WGPD is uniquely positioned to support SAIs now facing emerging public debt issues and, I believe, will pay particular attention to new debt management issues and challenges emerging from the recent financial turmoil.”
The WGPD’s activities are part of goal 3 of the INTOSAI Knowledge Sharing Committee and currently revolve around six themes ranging from the impact of financial crises on public debt to contingent debt and information systems related to public debt management. Since 2002, the WGPD has worked closely with the INTOSAI Development Initiative to help create capacity-building programs on public debt management. It also supports the work of the Professional Standards Committee in developing the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI). Thus, the WGPD is harmonizing its official products with the new ISSAI standards and determining which should be modified, eliminated, or maintained.
As of July 2011, the members of the WGPD are Mexico (Chair), Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Korea, Lithuania, Moldova, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the Ukraine, the United States, Yemen, and Zambia.
The Working Group on the Fight against Corruption and Money Laundering, chaired by the SAI of Egypt, held an international seminar on September 12, 2011, in Prague, Czech Republic. The seminar included sessions on trends, approaches, and successes in the fight against corruption; promoting integrity, transparency, and accountability in public administration; and the status and powers of SAIs in the fight against corruption, as well as the risks, and proposals for anticorruption measures. These sessions featured presentations from experts in governments, SAIs, and international anticorruption organizations.
After the seminar, the working group held its fifth meeting on September 13 and 14. During the meeting, the working group discussed its progress on the new work plan for 2011–2013, which had been approved at INCOSAI XX. The group discussed cooperative efforts among SAIs in preparing guidelines to support efforts to detect and fight corruption and money laundering.
The working group also addressed implementing the following:
For additional information, contact the working group:
Web site: www.wgfacml.cao.gov.eg
The African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI) held its 12th General Assembly in Libreville, Gabon, July 18–23, 2011. Hosted by the President of the Court of Audit of Gabon, Gilbert Ngoulakia, the assembly drew delegates from Arabic-speaking SAIs (AFROSAI-A), English-speaking SAIs (AFROSAI-E), French-speaking SAIs (AFROSAI-F), and Portuguese-speaking SAIs. Over 50 countries sent delegates, while guests and observers included ministerial officials and representatives from the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), the Institute of Internal Auditors, various international donor organizations, and this Journal.
The opening ceremony, held at the Laico Okoume Palace Hotel in Libreville, was attended by the Prime Minister of Gabon, Paul Biyoghe Mba, who made opening remarks to the delegates. Mr. Ngoulakia, incoming AFROSAI President, and Terence Nombembe, outgoing AFROSAI President and Auditor General of South Africa, also made welcoming remarks.
At the first plenary session, Mr. Nombembe underscored the importance of having all regions and language groups of Africa represented and participating in AFROSAI meetings. He noted that he was pleased to see such a large and diverse group attending the General Assembly and that he hoped this level of cooperation and participation would continue into the future. He also congratulated Mr. Ngoulakia on his new role as incoming AFROSAI President.
Mr. Ngoulakia thanked Mr. Nombembe and stated that it was an honor to take the role of AFROSAI President and that he looked forward to continuing the good work in AFROSAI that Mr. Nombembe had initiated.
In other opening business, the assembly approved the appointment of the Auditor General of Gambia, Bubacarr Sankareh, as Technical Vice-President for the 12th AFROSAI meeting. The SAI of Libya hosts the AFROSAI General Secretariat and, due to the situation in the country, was unable to attend. Alfred Enoh, Director of the Secretariat of AFROSAI-F, represented the secretariat ad interim and announced that the AFROSAI prize, normally awarded to an SAI for its role in supporting AFROSAI, would not be awarded this year because of the absence of the SAI of Libya. Mr. Enoh awarded the science competition prize to Khemraj Reetun of the SAI of Mauritius.
The assembly also heard remarks from Magnus Borge, the head of IDI, and Francis Salsmann, representing the Court of Accounts of France, who discussed the complexities of the relationship between SAIs and their parliaments.
Bame Gueye, President of AFROSAI-E and President of the Court of Audit of Senegal, delivered the AFROSAI General Secretariat report. He spoke about the status of AFROSAI dues, the upcoming introduction of the new AFROSAI strategic plan and procedure manual, relations with the donor community, and capacity building within the regional language subgroups.
Mr. Nombembe introduced the new 2012–2014 AFROSAI strategic plan, noting its three priorities—strengthening governance structures, technical capacity building of member SAIs, and institutional capacity building for member SAIs within their own jurisdictions. He also highlighted the section of the plan dealing with AFROSAI financing, which essentially comes from member dues and donor contributions. He noted that if donor contributions diminish, it will even more essential that AFROSAI ensures that all member dues are kept current and paid in full.
Mr. Gueye presented delegates with the newly completed AFROSAI Procedures Manual, which was adopted unanimously by the assembly. The assembly also unanimously approved the strategic plan.
In other business, Mounira Abd El Hadj presented the report of the AFROSAI Journal. Representatives of the AFROSAI language subgroups each made presentations, followed by remarks from Emma Kellner, representative of German development organization GIZ, who discussed 12 projects already completed with AFROSAI, including work on the strategic plan and procedures manual and seven more ongoing capacity-building projects.
The second plenary session focused on the presentation of papers and discussions on three themes:
In the third general plenary, the assembly unanimously approved the admission of four new members to AFROSAI: Guinea, Togo, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. It also approved the election of new language subgroup representatives to the AFROSAI Governing Board: Algeria (AFROSAI-A), Cameroon and Senegal (AFROSAI-F/CREFIAF), and Namibia (AFROSAI-E).
Various issues regarding AFROSAI’s finances were discussed, with particular emphasis on the situation in Libya and the functioning of the General Secretariat. It was agreed that a decision regarding the General Secretariat would be taken at the Governing Board meeting before the next AFROSAI General Assembly.
Finally, the delegates unanimously adopted the Libreville Accords, and proposed that Morocco host the next AFROSAI General Assembly in 2014. The delegates approved the proposal, and Morocco accepted the invitation to host the 13th AFROSAI General Assembly.
From May 30 to June 2, 2011, the VIII EUROSAI Congress was held in Lisbon. The congress was organized by the Tribunal de Contas of Portugal, which is serving as the President of EUROSAI for 2011–2014.
The congress focused on two main themes.
The following SAIs served as chairs and reporters for each theme and subtheme:
Working groups for each theme and subtheme prepared principal papers and discussion papers for the congress. EUROSAI members contributed country papers that served as a significant basis for the exchange of experiences, discussions, and deliberations.
The presentations of congress speakers also contributed to fruitful debates, which were, in turn, enriched by participant interactions. The participants included representatives of 47 EUROSAI member SAIs and 20 observers from the public audit community (including other representatives of INTOSAI and its regional organizations). All had the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest and major importance that were raised in the context of the congress themes.
New realities in society have had a significant impact on public management and accountability. In a fast-changing world, govrnments must respond more quickly to meet the needs and expectations of their citizens.
Congress participants noted a challenging tension in government between (1) careful democratic processes of legislation and control and (2) flexibility to deal with rapid developments. However, they believe that there is no contradiction between flexibility and an open system model, on the one hand, and accountability, on the other hand.
SAIs have an important role to play in promoting a culture of accountability and facilitating an effectively operating accountability process by auditing, reporting, issuing recommendations, highlighting good practices, and—in some cases—exercising their jurisdictional and sanctioning powers.
Therefore, the congress adopted recommendations on the need for SAIs to adapt to the innovations and changes in society and promote different dimensions of accountability.
Within the framework of the EUROSAI strategic plan adopted by this congress (see below), the congress recommended that EUROSAI build upon this theme through a structured dialogue and other joint efforts to meet the challenges of change, and that the results be shared with the wider INTOSAI community, in accordance with INTOSAI’s motto, Mutual Experience Benefits All.
EUROSAI members recognized that independent regulators are an important, and growing, feature of the public sector landscape in many European countries. They have developed as the result of a variety of factors, and there is no common definition of regulation; in fact, there are many different regulatory roles and functions, and they differ from country to country. However, three primary groups of regulators can be found across EUROSAI members: infrastructure regulators, competition and consumer regulators, and financial services regulators.
The financial crisis has led to enhanced roles for financial regulators across the EUROSAI countries. This can complicate SAIs’ audits of regulation in this area because not all SAIs have audit responsibility for central banks.
Regulators and SAIs have much in common. They have different mandates to contribute to good governance and public sector management, but both aim to protect the interests of citizens.
The congress recommended that given the independent discretion available to regulators and their varied mandates, SAIs and others external bodies need to rigorously scrutinize regulators’ use of financial resources and effectiveness.
The main conclusions and recommendations for each theme can be found at www.eurosai2011.tcontas.pt/Pages/Welcome.aspx.
Other fundamental milestones of the congress were the adoption of the EUROSAI Strategic Plan 2011–2017, which can be found on the EUROSAI Web site (www.eurosai.org), and the decision to hold the next congress in the Netherlands in 2014.
The congress also approved a statement, Reinforcing the independence of SAIs, which can be found at "www.eurosai2011.tcontas.pt/Pages/statement-of-independence.aspx. In this document, EUROSAI members recognize with appreciation and support internal and external INTOSAI initiatives promoting greater transparency, accountability, and the effective and efficient receipt and use of public resources for the benefit of citizens.
In March 2011, EUROSAI and the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA) signed a cooperation agreement in Rome that created a process allowing the two organizations to benefit mutually from each other’s work and promote knowledge sharing. The ECIIA is a regional organization of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) a well-known body in the international community of auditors. The IIA has been a partner of INTOSAI since 2007, when it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Professional Standards Committee that was renewed in 2010. As a regional branch of the IIA, the ECIIA assists and represents the European internal audit profession in both the private and public sectors. Thus, collaboration between ECIIA and EUROSAI, as European structures of the two organizations, seemed a natural step toward implementing the achievements of the global organizations at the European level.
Work on the agreement had already started in 2009. After a series of meetings, representatives of EUROSAI and ECIIA identified areas of collaboration and set common objectives and framework initiatives in the field of public sector internal auditing that were later captured in the agreement on cooperation. It was based on the awareness that the internal auditing and public external auditing professions complement each other. An effective internal audit function is a vital component of good governance providing public managers, especially senior management, with assurance about the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations as well as suggestions for improvement in all areas of control and governance. Supreme audit institutions, being bodies of public external audit, can benefit from the results of internal auditors’ work.
The cooperation process initiated by the signing of the agreement includes (1) facilitating dialogue and knowledge sharing between SAIs and internal auditors in the public sector across Europe, (2) developing a common understanding of the issues related to public sector accountability, auditing, and shared terminology in the field, and (3) sharing experiences in implementing existing professional standards. To accomplish these purposes, the ECIIA and EUROSAI have agreed to develop a common platform to share their publications, tools, and resources; inform each other of all initiatives related to the public sector; and identify and implement joint projects, such as conferences, seminars, and training and research activities.
The agreement was signed by Jacek Jezierski, President of the SAI of Poland and the then Chair of the EUROSAI Governing Board, and Phil Tarling, President of the ECIIA.