International Journal of Government Auditing – Summer 2015
The yearly peer review survey among INTOSAI members is conducted by the Capacity Building Committee´s Subcommittee for Peer Reviews (Subcommittee) chaired by the SAI of Slovakia President Ján Jasovský according to the INTOSAI Strategic Plan 2011-2016 and the Subcommittee Action Plan 2013-2016, as noted by the XXI INCOSAI in Beijing 2013.
The survey results in detail were sent to all interested parties, notably to the secretariats of INTOSAI and individual regional groups, CBC Chair and Vice-Chair, CBC Goal Liaison and Subcommittee for Peer Review members, all INTOSAI members that took active participation in the survey, IDI and OECD.
The survey was undertaken between January and April 2015. INTOSAI members were delivered a questionnaire via e-mail with 15 questions. In comparison to the 2014 questionnaire, there was one more question added that solicited an expression of interest from participating SAIs to willingly engage in the peer review as a peer reviewing SAI.
The INTOSAI membership list from the INTOSAI website and individual SAI web pages were the main sources for contacts. The 191 SAIs were taken as the survey pool. It was found that not all INTOSAI members have websites; there are 38 without a web page. That figure means that almost 20 percent of SAIs do not have a web page.
Overall, the questionnaire was sent to and received by 177 SAIs. The Subcommittee registered 72 replies, giving a rate of return of about 41 percent. In comparison to the 2014 survey, there was an increased number of replies.
The completion and submission of these questionnaires was due in part to the involvement of INTOSAI regional working groups and their secretariats in the process. The secretariats were asked to participate with the questionnaire dissemination. The secretariats of OLACEFS, PASAI and EUROSAI should be especially congratulated for their kind cooperation.
As of April 2015, the Subcommittee knows of 85 peer reviews accomplished since 1999 (Graph 1). The increase by 19 projects since the survey in 2014 was due not only to the new projects, but also to the ability to collect past reports.
There are 68 peer review related documents (reports, memoranda and items such as action plans, summary reports and press releases) at the CBC web site: http:// www.intosaicbc.org. This number breaks further down to 48 reports and eight memoranda in varied INTOSAI official languages. The largest number of peer reviews (16) was conducted in 2012. The second largest number of recorded peer reviews was 15, which took place in 2014. No peer reviews were registered in the years 2002 and 2003.
According to recent and previous surveys, there was an average of 5.1 peer reviews per year recorded in the INTOSAI community from 1999 to 2015. In total, 49 SAIs were engaged as peer reviewers (25 percent of INTOSAI membership). Topics and scopes of peer reviews varied widely according to the peer review goal.
ISSAI 5600 and the checklist were used primarily for constructing Memorandums of Understanding, and planning and selecting questions used for peer review.
Since 1999, the most reviewed SAI was the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), which was reviewed four times. However it should be noted that the GAO is compelled according to national standards to undergo a peer review every three years.
Another five SAIs were peer-reviewed three times, 11 SAIs were reviewed twice and another 43 SAIs were reviewed once.
Survey questionnaires solicited expressions of interest from the participating SAIs to willingly engage in the peer reviews as a peer reviewing SAI. There were 17 SAIs that said yes, and these were passed on to the SAI of Austria. The SAI of Austria is preparing a peer review project on SAI independence in collaboration with the INTOSAI General Secretariat and the Austrian Development Agency—the operational unit of the Austrian Development Cooperation.
Overall, despite a demanding peer review process, the peer review projects were welcomed by all parties involved. They viewed peer review as an opportunity to confirm the good work done by the reviewed SAI as well as a chance to uncover gaps in the reviewed SAI activities that could, at the end, help establish continuous improvement at the reviewed SAI.
The number of performed peer reviews within the INTOSAI community increases steadily. In the last four years this number has been above the yearly long-term average (yearly average is 5.1 peer reviews). This could be viewed as a success for the INTOSAI community as well as for the ISSAIs that are accepted and used for conducting the peer reviews.
However, the survey confirmed that an imbalance can be observed: four SAIs were involved in 39 percent of the SAI engagements in the peer review as peer reviewers since 1999 (see Graph 2 below). Efforts should be made to widen the circle of those SAIs providing the demanding role of peer reviewer. The first step was made by the Subcommittee in its 2015 questionnaire as described above, in its solicitation for SAIs willing to serve as peer reviewers.
The results of the survey are disseminated within the INTOSAI community through usual channels—the CBC website and the International Journal for Government Auditing, and also via direct mail to survey participants.
It could be concluded that peer review promotion remains an effective tool to help elevate the quality, image and prestige of the SAIs both on a national and international level. Thus, peer reviews should be considered within the broad context of the INTOSAI motto, "Experientia mutual omnibus prodest," or mutual experience benefits all.
If you feel out of your depth when talking about IT, this new CBC Guide is for you.
Recognizing that a core part of managing a modern Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) is ensuring that the organization has appropriate levels of information communications technology (ICT) to support its work, the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee has produced a new guide to help SAI managers think through and plan the systems they need. The Guide has been written to help senior managers in SAIs understand what constitutes modern ICT and what they might expect from their ICT services provider. It takes the reader through what is needed to set up an ICT function, what should be covered in an ICT strategy and plan, how to organize and staff an ICT function, designing the ICT infrastructure, the selection of applications, the measurement of performance and, particularly important in the current time, how to maintain security.
The Guide can be found on the CBC website: www.intosaicbc.org
The IX EUROSAI Congress' conclusions and recommendations urged us all to carry forward the spirit of the Young EUROSAI movement in forthcoming EUROSAI activities. To that end, we at the State Comptroller and Ombudsman Office of Israel are proud to be organizing the Second Young EUROSAI Conference (YES 2.0) under the theme "SAI&I."
The world today is both challenging the public audit field and offering it remarkable opportunities. We are witnessing outstanding technological revolutions that affect all aspects of our lives: smartphones, cyber, nanotechnology, big data, smart materials, augmented reality, virtual currencies, new media and social networks, 3D printing, the Internet of Things and many more. Change is sweeping us up with it. This is a revolution, not evolution. But more important, new technologies bring new ideas. These changes are reshaping our society, and the relationship between the individual, the community and the State. New technologies empower the individual in society.
Today is "the Age of the Individual." This is the "Selfie Generation." Behind the popularity of selfies hides a much deeper message: Each individual believes that he or she is in the center: "I control my reality; I design my own character and I share it with the world." It is an expression of the Age of the Individual; the Age of I.
It is no wonder that the Age of I has intensified in recent years. The perception that the individual is at the centre of everything is the main characteristic of "Generation Y"—people born in the 1980s and 1990s. Generally speaking:
The above technological and social developments raise basic questions regarding the fulfillment of our mission as Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) in the societies in which we operate. SAIs are no longer "exclusive auditors." We are not the only ones that provide information to the public and the legislature. We have many "competitors" in the era of information and open data. SAIs must ask themselves whether the traditional means are still the most effective way to carry out state audit, to maintain public confidence, and to connect with the public at large and with young people in particular. What is our role as Supreme Audit Institutions in this brave new reality and are we ready to make our role matter? Are Supreme Audit Institutions ready for the Age of I? YES 2.0 aims to address these questions.
That's why we have decided that 'SAI&I' will be the central theme of YES 2.0. As a young employee, you will be the future leader of your organization, so it is particularly important to grant you the opportunity to contemplate, present and discuss fresh ideas regarding:
The public effect of SAIs—namely, how SAIs can make a difference to and improve the lives of individuals. For example, under this subject, we want to explore the following issues:
The professional effect—how SAIs' work impacts individual employees and officials of audited bodies and how SAIs' audit employees interact with them. For example, under this subject, we want to explore the following issues:
The personal effect—the auditors as individuals working in a unique organizational environment. For example, under this subject, we want to explore the following issues:
Since the extremely successful first Young EUROSAI Conference held in Rotterdam in November 2013, a network of young colleagues has taken its first steps; for example, in sharing knowledge and experience on the field of social media, the IXth EUROSAI Congress, education and trainings in SAIs, procedures of nomination of Auditor General positions, innovative audit methods, open spending, peer reviews, innovative products, transferring confidential information and the image of the audit profession.
YES 2.0 continues the on-going building of the Young EUROSAI professional community, promoting cooperation among its members in order to enhance their professional values and standards for the benefit of all SAIs.
YES 2.0 will not be a traditional conference and will be an enriching professional and social experience for the young delegates. So far the vast majority of the EUROSAI community and observing institutions has selected their YES 2.0's delegation, whereby several of them have used innovative ways to select their candidates.
And those who have not yet joined, it's not too late— please feel free to contact us at Yes2015@mevaker.gov.il
Submitted by Shai Mizrahi, Matan Gutman and Shachar Goldman
At the annual steering committee meeting of the Professional Standards Committee, the following documents were approved for exposure at issai.org and will be published on issai.org during the months of September, October and November 2015. The exposure period will be three months as prescribed by the INTOSAI Due Process for Professional Standards.
Revised performance auditing standards, reflecting the changes in ISSAI 300 that was adopted at INCOSAI in 2013. Developed by the Performance Audit Subcommittee headed by the SAI of Brazil.
Revised compliance auditing standard, reflecting the changes in ISSAI 400 that was adopted at INCOSAI in 2013. Developed by the Compliance Audit Subcommittee headed by the SAI of Norway.
An exposure version of a revised ISSAI 30 Code of Ethics is expected to be approved by the PSC steering committee in a written procedure in September and will thus be ready for exposure on issai.org in October. The revision of this document was initiated in accordance with the agreed maintenance schedule.
The revision team is headed by the SAI of Poland.
Editor's Note: "The Value and Benefit of SAIs" is a new column the Journal will be featuring in upcoming issues. If you would like to submit news of SAIs that are finding ways to demonstrate their relevance and importance, please contact INTOSAIJournal@ gao.gov
The Auditor-General of South Africa has created a video to illustrate how the country audits its public finances. The video has received nearly 800 views on YouTube, and demonstrates how SAIs are getting out the message of how their work benefits the public!
To watch "Million Bags of Million Rand," visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgr3rE-EliM