International Journal of Government Auditing – October 2014
Co-organized by its Secretariat and the SAI of Kenya, AFROSAI WGEA held its fourth annual meeting May 26-31, 2014, in Mombasa, Kenya.
This meeting brought together about 100 participants representing SAIs (including 12 heads of SAIs) and other organizations from twenty-eight African, European, and Asian countries. The objective of the meeting was to improve participants' knowledge of best practices and standards applied in environmental audits, and to allow them, after discussion and exchanges, to share relevant knowledge and experiences.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the head of the SAI of Cameroon, Mr. Henri Eyebe Ayissi, who also serves as Chairman of AFROSAI WGEA. He was accompanied by Mr. Edward Ouko, Auditor General of Kenya; a representative of the Minister in charge of Environment, Water and Natural Resources of Kenya; and Mr. Edward Simanjuntak of the SAI of Indonesia, who was representing the President of INTOSAI WGEA.
A consistent topic that emerged during the various speeches, remarks, and presentations was the need to ensure that socio-economic development in Africa takes into account the necessity of proper management and conservation of the environment. To this end, participants stressed, SAIs have an important role to play, through their oversight and advice. However, they can be effective only after they achieve a good knowledge of standards, methodologies, tools, and best environmental auditing practices.
During the three days of the meeting, participants discussed the following topics:
The meeting was also attended by technical and financial partners such as those from the Federal Republic of Germany Cooperation Body (GIZ), the Canadian Comprehensive Audit Foundation (CCAF), the African Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the National Environment Management Authority of Kenya (NEMA), and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
After discussions on no less than 41 presentations delivered during the meeting, the following resolutions were made:
Participants at AFROSAI WGEA's Fourth Annual Meeting took part in an environmental excursion organized for them by their host, SAI Kenya. Environmental auditors visited the Marine Park site and appreciated the diversity of Kenya's marine fauna and flora. Participants were also struck by the longevity of sea turtles, many of which are centuries old. For many participants, seeing the turtles reinforced the need for African development strategies—otherwise, future generations might only know of the existence of certain species by viewing pictures in a book, rather than by seeing the animals themselves.
To learn more about AFROSAI WGEA, visit http://www.environmental-auditing.org/Home/RegionalWorkingGroups/AFROSAI/tabid/116/Default.aspx
In a world of rapidly evolving communications tools, where reams of open data are altering the meaning of public information, supreme audit institutions (SAIs) are confronting a choice: to keep pace with technological and societal shifts, or risk losing their relevancy. The challenge for SAIs is to adapt in ways that will not sacrifice either quality standards or a commitment to transparency. SAIs conduct their work to facilitate improvements in government operations; but, if their reports are not widely read, shared, or understood, what kind of impact can they have?
Delegates debated various ways to address this issue at the IX EUROSAI Congress held June 16-19 in The Hague, the Netherlands. The central theme of the Congress was "innovation." Ben Verwaayen, the former CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, delivered a keynote address in which he discussed the quickening pace of change in contemporary society. Mr. Verwaayen pointed to a similar time of modernization: the advent of steam ships' popularity over sailing ships. He described how a leading sailing company reacted to the challenge, by choosing to redesign their ships to make them sail better. This company did not understand that, when it came to being the primary means of water transportation, sailing was about to be surpassed by steam.
Representatives of the Office of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel held a work session in which they pointed out that we are now witnessing an information revolution equal in scope to that which took place after the invention of the printing press, when mass-produced books and newspapers spread information at a previously unprecedented rate and reach. Today, the ways in which people consume information and news are swiftly changing as newspapers, and radio and television stations, continue to lose readers, listeners, and viewership. Digital platforms, however, are increasing the size of their audiences; Facebook has 802 million active users, and more than one billion users visit YouTube every month. However, only 13 of the current 50 EUROSAI members currently have a presence on Facebook. If SAIs produce content that is not shareable on these platforms, how will they be able to ensure their work is seen?
In another session, delegates from Estonia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands discussed strategies their SAIs have used to innovate when it comes to communications. In advance of audit reports being issued, the Estonian office sent out teasers to reporters with questions the audit would answer. In Hungary, the SAI videotapes interviews with government officials to follow up on the implementation of audit recommendations, and posts the videos on its website. And in doing work on the cost and benefits of education, the Netherlands' SAI used Facebook to contact young people and set up an advisory board of students to elicit feedback and information.
The Congress' various work sessions also dealt with other modern challenges confronting SAIs, including using open data, presenting audit results visually, and using tools such as infographics and interactive graphics. Presenters from the United Kingdom's National Audit Office discussed how the environment for auditing is changing to include a growing range of data sources and linked data, technological changes, and computing capability. To meet these new challenges, SAIs will need more people with backgrounds that bring together data skills, analysis skills, and IT systems knowledge. In a workshop on information design, three officials from the Netherlands Court of Audits discussed the importance of innovating in information design for clear communication. They talked about ways text, visuals, and numbers can combine to result in highly effective communications of audit messages.
There are also new expectations from citizens as to how they can be involved with SAIs. As public sector open data becomes more easily available, there are now "armchair auditors" in the public who know how to use technologies to sift through information. Congress participants discussed possible ways SAIs can interact with and benefit from such citizens.
The goal of EUROSAI's Congress organizers was to make sure that all participants returned to their SAIs with at least two ideas they could implement. Over the four-day conference, organizers far exceeded that goal by offering delegates a vast array of innovative ideas and a wealth of knowledge-sharing, so each SAI can remain current, relevant, and vital to their country's policy-making processes.
Visit http://www.eurosai2014.nl to learn more about the IX EUROSAI Congress 2014
At the 23rd Ordinary General Assembly of the Organization for Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS), held in December 2013 in Santiago, Chile, the Corruption Control Toolkit for OLACEFS Supreme Audit Institutions was approved.
This document is a compilation of good practices and operational tools recently developed by the supreme audit institutions (SAIs) of Latin America and the Caribbean to control corruption. The tools are classified as those used for prevention and detection, for making complaints, and for making use of citizen participation. Also included are prevention and detection tools that are currently being used by non- SAI bodies and might eventually be adopted by SAIs.
What the toolkit ultimately sets out to do is raise awareness of the many ways of tackling corruption, using best practices tried and tested throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Its goal is to become an instrument of reference and support for SAIs in the region.
In order to share best practices in Latin America and the Caribbean with other regional INTOSAI groups, OLACEFS is offering the text of the Toolkit in both Spanish and English.
To learn more about OLACEFS, visit http://www.olacefs.com
How can supreme audit institutions (SAIs) promote better governance in public administration? How can auditors make sure that accountability processes are intact and are being enforced? About 75 people, representing 22 countries and several organizations, gathered in Samoa last August to discuss how SAIs throughout the Pacific region can successfully address these questions.
Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, opened the 17th PASAI conference by noting its relevance. "The theme of the Congress—the Role of SAIs in the Effective Governance and Accountability of Pacific Island Countries—could not be more appropriate in terms of the current work by PASAI with the governments of the Pacific," said Mr.Tuilaepa.
Recent initiatives by the Samoa Audit Office, which is headed by the host of the 17th PASAI Congress, Controller and Auditor General Fuimaono Papali'i C.G. Afele, provide an example of the kind of progress SAIs in the Pacific are pursuing. The Office's Institutional Strengthening Project 2006-11 has culminated in the new Audit Act of 2013, which establishes the independence of the SAI. The Samoa Audit Office now publishes reports on its website, is updating its reports to Parliament and its ministry and public accounts audits, and has already updated 97 percent of its audits of public enterprises and public bodies.
Samoa's Prime Minster said that his country's audit office is forging a path for other SAIs in the region. "I am pleased to note that the audit reforms undertaken in the Samoa Audit Office can be used to spearhead and fast track reforms in other developing and progressing SAIs in the Pacific, who have yet to reach best practices as prescribed by INTOSAI and PASAI," said Mr. Tuilaepa.
Lyn Provost, General Secretary of PASAI and Auditor-General of New Zealand, said the reforms of the Samoa Audit Office are indeed best practices, and serve as a model for the Pacific.
Epa Tuioti from KVAConsult, a Pacific-based consultancy firm, advised PASAI members to be proactive about good governance. "You have an opportunity, as PASAI, to ask the question, 'where do we go now?'" he said. "I think audit offices have the primary responsibility to be the driver of approaches that enable our countries to move forward."
Auditing is a tool that can help improve the management and use of public resources, as auditing ultimately plays a role in the governance and accountability of Pacific nations. Congress participants observed that good governance is the responsibility of everyone, not just political leaders and auditors. Good governance also sets strategies, monitors the performance of public entities, and facilitates effective accountability.
The most serious threat to good governance is corruption, said Mr. Haiying Jiang, representing INTOSAI Governing Chair Mr. Liu Jiayi. "National audit is a powerful tool for combating and preventing corruption. The essence of corruption is the act to use public power to seek private interests. Audit institutions of all countries have exerted deterrent roles through their supervisory functions and have become an indispensible force for combating corruption."
Congress participants shared their experiences as auditors dealing with fraud and abuse, and discussed ways such situations could be effectively addressed. "My experience is when people start talking about a problem, change starts to happen," said Ms. Lyn Provost. "We can head in a positive direction in the Pacific."
Congress participants agreed that real gains can be made from regional cooperation to improve transparency and accountability by promoting good governance, strong internal controls in public entities, and providing good Auditor-General (or equivalent) reporting to parliaments or legislative assemblies.
Secretary General Lyn Provost noted the importance of linking regional concerns to global considerations. "The big picture of who we are and how we fit in the world is an important start to our Congress, as one does not have governance or accountability in a vacuum," said Ms. Provost
Keynote speakers at the Congress emphasized that sustainable development worldwide is enhanced if the use of public resources is made more transparent and accountable. Dr. Josef Moser, Secretary General of INTOSAI, said that "increased transparency and accountability is also essential in order to strengthen the trust of citizens in all state institutions. It therefore has to be our common goal to create transparency, enhance accountability, fight corruption and thus contribute to sustainable development."
By strengthening the capacity of auditors, SAIs can enhance their efforts toward achieving better governance and accountability. Congress speakers stressed the need to work with INTOSAI's capacity development initiatives to build on their expertise, knowledge, and training materials for PASAI's initiatives
"We need to bring all regions of INTOSAI closer to the work of the Capacity Building Committee (CBC)," said Kimi Makwetu, Auditor-General of South Africa and Chair of the INTOSAI CBC. "We need to make sure we all understand that in order for capacity building to become a reality, all the regions ought to be involved."
"People in EUROSAI can benefit from what is happening in PASAI," he added.
One capacity development project in the Pacific region is the IDI-PASAI Capacity Development Cooperation. "This cooperation provides support to PASAI, and looks to strengthen it in the future," said Archana P. Shirsat, Deputy Director General and Head of Capacity Development for the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI). The Capacity Development Cooperation involves the 3i Program ISSAI Implementation Initiative, support for capacity development, the SAI Performance Measurement Framework, INTOSAI Donor Cooperation, and cooperative audits.
PASAI members acknowledged that the Pacific is developing an international reputation for its regional cooperative performance audits. The focus of the past year was the climate change cooperative audit, structured around three key themes: preparing for climate change risk; planning and managing climate change risks, including erosion; and risks to food security.
"The coordinated audit's main findings indicate that the Pacific Island governments audited are not sufficiently prepared for current or future impacts of climate change, and do not have adequate funded and planned response mechanisms in place to adapt to the short-term and long-term negative effects of climate change," said Claire Kelly, the Asian Development Bank's Cooperative Audit Advisor, reporting on the 4th Pacific Regional Cooperative Performance Audit (CPA).
Ms. Kelly said the next step for CPAs include a PASAI long-term strategy, leveraging Australasian Council of Auditors-General (ACAG) twinning arrangements, adopting lessons from previous CPAs to improve CPA methodology, and communicating the value of cooperative and coordinated audits to regional stakeholders.
"Coordinated audits as a strategy for capacity building is not an end in itself," Luciano dos Santos Danni, Head of the Department for International Relations SAI Brazil, told Congress participants, alluding to OLACEFS' own recent experiences. "It is a means to enable joint learning through theoretical courses and work experience. And it generates quality products."
Following four cooperative performance audits focusing on environmental issues, the Pacific region's fifth cooperative performance audit is on public debt management. A financial cooperative audit on foreign aid is currently in progress.
When reviewing their work over the past year, PASAI's member organizations reaffirmed the principles of regional collaboration and cooperation by showing commitment to the new PASAI Strategic Plan 2014-2024. The guiding principle of PASAI's long-term strategy is to seek improved management and use of public resources through increased transparency and accountability to the people of the Pacific
PASAI's strategic plan is SAI-centric; puts auditing, particularly financial auditing, at the center of members' attention; and adopts the draft INTOSAI SAI PMF, a voluntary tool for measuring and monitoring the performance of an SAI.
The overarching priority of the long-term strategy is to enable SAIs to contribute to improved PMF outcomes. PASAI will lead and assist SAIs in achieving positive outcomes, and SAIs will integrate the strategy into their own strategic plans.
Congress speakers also noted that there are real benefits of good regional cooperation and collaboration, there is an ongoing need to pool knowledge and work collaboratively, and the Pacific Plan review contains a continuing desire for regionalism across Pacific countries.
PASAI organizers said that SAI member presentations have always been an important part of the Congress, as Pacific SAIs share individual successes as well as challenges. In summarizing the country presentations, PASAI's Secretary-General Lyn Provost noted that every presentation highlighted positive gains over the past five years, and the SAI's presentations gave a sense that all members are auditing with a greater level of competence and confidence.
The Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK), as the Chairman of the INTOSAI Working Group on Enivironmental Auditing (WGEA), hosted the 13th Steering Committee meeting of INTOSAI WGEA April 3-5, 2014, in Senggigi, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Thirty-eight delegates from 16 SAIs, and one observer from SAI Iraq, attended the meeting.
The meeting included an agenda to discuss and endorse the project outline listed in the WGEA work plan 2014-16. Participants reviewed seven research projects, one guidance material update, four ISSAI reviews, and various training programs. The meeting also covered topics such as the status of the WGEA Secretariat and strategies to improve cooperation between INTOSAI WGEA and Regional WGEA (RWGEA).
In relation to a survey of the project outlines and plans, each project leader will develop several questions. These questions will be compiled by the Secretariat and distributed to all WGEA and RWGEA members.
Project leaders will revise the project plan based on the input received from SC members. The Secretariat will monitor the implementation of the project plan based on agreed milestones, and will develop meeting minutes that will be distributed to all delagates for their input.
Hadi Poernomo, Chairman of BPK, said that the government had a role in protecting the environment from human activities. "As supreme audit institutions, we have an important task to monitor and audit whether the government has properly done its duties in preserving the environment," said Poernomo. "Given the global nature on sustainable development, all nations must cooperate and build a synergy to design and apply solutions. If we work together, we will achieve a far greater result than if we work individually."
Prior to Poernomo's speech, BPK Board Member Dr. Ali Masykur Musa also offered welcoming remarks. He said he believed the meeting would foster an openness in interaction, discussion, and collaboration among participants, in the spirit of the Experientia Mutua Omnibus Prodes, or, "mutual experience benefits all." This would result in productive ideas for all INTOSAI WGEA members in improving environmental quality worldwide. Dr. Musa also expressed his appreciation of the achievement of the INTOSAI WGEA goals, during the previous chairmanships of SAI Estonia and Canada, in improving the quality of the global environment.
The INTOSAI WGEA was established to encourage the use of audit mandates and audit methodologies in the field of environmental protection and sustainable development. The INTOSAI WGEA has been instrumental in encouraging SAIs around the world to conduct audits of environmental issues and programs, and in helping them build the capacity to do so. The ultimate goal is that SAIs will become more strategic in enforcing governments to preserve the environment and its natural resources
Prior to the meeting, participants joined an environmental excursion held April 2, 2014. Excursion participants planted trees and trekked in the Suranadi Forest, and released turtles in Oberoi Medana Beach, Lombok.
The meeting was closed by the Vice Chairman of the BPK, Hasan Bisri. In his closing remarks, he conveyed his appreciation to all delegates for their active participation in the meeting.
To learn more about the Working Group on Environmental Auditing, visit http://www.environmental-auditing.org