International Journal of Government Auditing – Winter 2018
Thirty-three delegations, including more than 20 heads of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), met in Graz, Austria, for the 71st International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Governing Board (GB) meeting November 6-7, 2017. Chaired by Dr. Harib Al Amimi, the GB made numerous important decisions, including:
During the breakaway discussions, participants also discussed SAI contributions in monitoring SDG implementation, as well as INTOSAI standard setting.
The 71st INTOSAI Governing Board meeting will take place in Moscow in mid-November 2018.
Nearly 150 members of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), an organization dedicated to performing public external audit, gathered in Lima, Peru, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Lima Declaration in December 2017.
The Lima Declaration, approved during the ninth INTOSAI Congress in 1977, is considered the magna carta of government auditing and defines the characteristics and requirements for Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) independence and effective functioning. Forty years later, the Lima Declaration maintains its validity, and its eight fundamental principles have been recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in two of its resolutions.
The event featured a personal chronicle from Dr. Hubert Weber, the only person in attendance at the 40th commemoration who was also present at the declaration's adoption in 1977. Dr. Weber, former President of the European Court of Auditors, took participants on a journey describing the declaration's inception.
The agenda also included several presentations and panel discussions on SAI independence, its importance, continued relevancy and sustainability.
Highlights included findings and the action plan on the Peer Review Project on SAI Independence, a 2-year endeavor carried out by the INTOSAI General Secretariat in cooperation with the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) in seven participating SAIs—Albania, Bhutan, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Vanuatu—from all regions of INTOSAI.
The project aimed to enhance transparency and accountability of public finances in the selected countries and create good examples of how independence is a crucial characteristic for good governance, transparency, accountability and credibility.
Mr. Hannes Loimer, ACA, stressed within the frame of the Action Plan that "cultivating cooperation with legislature and regularly developing and publishing reports are actions that can be taken toward achieving a stronger voice and independence."
INTOSAI goal chair representatives provided perspectives on the relationship between the Lima Declaration and the INTOSAI strategic goals, citing ongoing efforts, initiatives and standards that support the Lima Declaration’s foundation and original principles.
"We should build bridges, not walls!" exclaimed Minister Augusto Nardes, SAI Brazil (Professional Standards Committee chair), who discussed the Lima Declaration as the anchor for all International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs). Minister Nardes championed the notion of working collaboratively.
Cultivating independence, as well as ensuring its continuance, does require work.
"Independence is a privilege. We need to work hard to get it. We need to work hard to maintain it," noted Mr. Jan van Schalkwyk, SAI South Africa (Capacity Building Committee chair).
Mr. van Schalkwyk recognized that independence enables relevance, but it also obliges accountability. Leading by example is an important factor.
"Show that you are worthy of independence. Put into place long-term strategies to build institutional capacity, professionally qualified staff, professional standards and quality assurance," he said.
Dr. Hussam Alangari, President, General Auditing Bureau, Saudi Arabia (Policy, Finance and Administration Committee chair) echoed the sentiment of implementing initiatives designed to help achieve independence and outlined the wide variety of mechanisms the PFAC supports that empower SAIs.
Though much progress has been made since the Lima Declaration's establishment, challenges still exist, and several participants presented findings and insight, as the fight in favor of independence remains valid today according to 2017 INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) surveys.
Mr. Einar Gørrissen, IDI Director General, touched on the many obstacles SAIs experience to obtain and maintain independence, including publication restrictions, legal protection of SAI heads from removal, and increasing executive interference in the SAI budget process.
Global efforts to defend SAI interests are a must, and it is crucial to find effective solutions that address common challenges in a collective way.
Ms. Petra Schirnhofer, Austrian Development Agency advisor, remarked on the need to raise awareness about the tremendous importance SAI independence plays in a country’s progress and noted that listening, balancing interfering while addressing the issues, and being supportive of the SAI's struggle for more independence are paramount.
"Governments must gain the trust of citizens every day," stressed Mr. Juan M. Portal, Auditor General of SAI Mexico and Chairman of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS).
Mr. Portal reminded participants of the permanent risks and external interferences that continue to threaten SAI independence, including corruption.
He furthered that independence is a necessity, and SAIs must be able to provide unbiased information regarding governmental management—not only to establish credibility but to truly provide value and benefits to citizens.
Mr. Nelson Shack Yalta, Comptroller General of the Republic of Peru, affirmed the need to be more involved with citizens and underscored the work of INTOSAI and SAIs on a global scale paying particular attending to SAI independence which is "crucial to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability in each country."
Though the Lima Declaration was established 40 years ago, its relevancy lives on.
"The Lima Declaration is a timeless treasure," expressed Mr. Rajiv Mehrishi, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and he asserted, "SAIs must continue to evolve into even more accountable institutions."
International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) 12 on “The Value and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs)—Making a Difference to the Lives of Citizens” presents important challenges to SAI institutional development and management to include internally strengthening accountability, integrity and transparency. These challenges also imply a need to fortify citizens' capacities, which can be met by creating spaces for communication and dialogue aimed at better understanding audit work and recognizing the value audit work provides. Today’s citizens demand more and better quality public services. They also demand increased government efficiency.
To meet these demands, member SAIs of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) developed a study that can help SAIs develop innovative strategies to address accessing and disseminating information to citizens. The “Index of Availability of Information to Citizens on the Institutional Management of SAIs (IDIGI-EFS) 2017”—a project conceived between OLACEFS and the Corporation Acción Ciudadana Colombia (AC-Colombia) with support from the Technical Commission on Good Governance Practices (CTPBG)—is the first regional comparative analysis on information availability to citizens and other stakeholders.
The analysis, which centers on the scope of audit control, management and results, aims to contribute to:
The IDIGI-EFS 2017 measurements revealed OLACEFS member SAIs averaged 51 points. These results, based on a possible range of 0-100, signify that while sufficient capacities and innovations exist, strategies can be adjusted and advanced to improve stakeholder communication.
The study highlighted several potential areas for improvement:
IDIGI-EFS 2017 results also demonstrate an inferential statistics analysis when compared to the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and the 2016 Latinobarómetro indexes, especially on perceptions associated with democracy support, economic satisfaction, government approval, national image on progress, and political corruption eradication.
Based on the OLACEFS experience, all International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) should explore similar studies and mechanisms, as seizing opportunities to facilitate citizens access to information are great ways to prove SAI value and benefits.
"It's time for action, time to deliver, time to give life to our commitments," remarked Mr. Kimi Makwetu, Auditor General (AG) of South Africa's Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) and chair of the Capacity Building Committee.
Mr. Makwetu's words resonated with the more than 100 delegates from SAIs and partner organizations worldwide that attended this year's joint CBC and International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI)-Donor Cooperation Steering Committee (IDSC) meetings held at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., September 18-21, 2017.
Providing attendees with a glimpse into past achievements and future initiatives, the CBC-IDSC contiguous meetings captured several themes:
The week-long event kicked off with several parallel CBC work streams, including sessions dedicated to peer reviews, the SAI Performance Measurement Framework (SAI PMF) and the INTOSAI Self-Assessment INTegrity (INTOSAINT), two mechanisms providing numerous benefits to all SAIs.
"SAI PMF is a tool for many things, not just performance measurement," noted Ms. Sina Palamo Iosefo, adding, "SAI PMF is also a great way to build institutional capacity and assess needs."
Ms. Iosefo, representing the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI), offered a regional perspective on SAI PMF implementation, including challenges and best practices achieved.
"A coordinated approach encouraged better performance, commitment and knowledge sharing; created a critical mass of resource persons in the region; and led to the integration of scores into PASAI's Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) framework," Ms. Iosefo highlighted.
Mr. Erwin Alberto Ramírez-Gutiérrez, Director of International Relations, SAI Mexico, facilitated the INTOSAINT work stream, where he discussed the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) experience, specifically pointing out numerous hurdles the region has addressed, including:
Mr. Ramírez-Gutiérrez stressed that OLACEFS will continue to raise INTOSAINT awareness through outreach activities, collaborative efforts and providing working materials translated into Spanish and Portuguese.
In addition to work stream sessions, CBC working groups provided progress reports using the new dashboard reporting format—a positive development to an accountable CBC and INTOSAI—an aspect goal chair representatives reflected on as they took center stage to also share successes in collaboration, standard-setting and professionalization experienced in the months since INCOSAI XXII.
Several smaller-group brainstorming sessions were integrated throughout the meeting, allowing participants to share knowledge, experience and generate ideas on aligning, confirming and "stretching" CBC strategies.
The need to challenge typical methodologies was brought to light, particularly for auditing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation preparedness.
Ms. Marion Barthélemy, Director, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), noted the complexities associated with SDGs and emphasized that SAIs must go beyond the traditional mandate, furthering that what matters is how SAIs contribute to a more robust implementation, follow-up and review of the SDGs and Agenda 2030.
Mr. Fayezul Choudhury, Chief Executive Officer, International Federation of Accountants, challenged accounting and auditing professionals to build trust and inspire confidence, stressing that global challenges require collaboration and cooperation, two very key aspects highlighted in this joint event, where CBC and IDSC synergies were harnessed to unveil best practices applicable to all.
Mr. Bruce Vivian, Senior Manager of Professionalization with the Organization of English-speaking African Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E), placed an emphasis on engaging and working with a variety of stakeholders at all levels.
He also underscored the need for a competency framework based on the INTOSAI core but tailored for the region to achieve professionalization—a prime example of the "global profession, local solution" concept, which is gaining ground within INTOSAI as SAIs learn to take local situations into account when addressing global needs.
The "global, local" concept is further illustrated in the Zimbabwean case study highlighted during a session focusing on fragile states.
"In Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe," noted Ms. Rheah Kujinga, Deputy AG, Zimbabwe, who discussed the project's importance and how it aimed to serve the citizens of Zimbabwe.
The World Bank's Mr. Ed Olowo-Okere echoed sentiments on collaboration and cooperation spoken throughout the week, as he pointed out stakeholder consultation, buy-in and commitment were critical to the Zimbabwe project's success.
The need for all stakeholder roles and responsibilities to be incorporated into plans is one of the lessons learned in implementing the Global Call for Proposals (GCP), where preliminary results showed many projects had ambitious outcomes but few concrete indicators.
In her presentation on GCP Tier One, Ms. Kerry Crawford, IDSC, said the GCP is "a great gateway for SAIs," opening the floor to participants to discuss support, funding mechanisms and optimal service delivery.
Mr. Wessel Pretorious, AFROSAI-E, stressed that proper accountability, proper processes and proper regional coordination are essential to more effective GCP support, support that comes in numerous forms—in-kind, monetary, direct to a specific SAI, and through an intermediary.
As part of the final day's agenda, Mr. Ole Schoeyen, IDSC, emphasized the importance of people and capacity building and discussed good practice principles and IDSC's way forward, which includes a greater focus on the GCP, the SAI capacity database and enhancing communications efforts that truly add value.
The World Bank's Ms. Jennifer Thomson, IDSC Donor Chair, summed it up best in her address to all delegates attending the CBC-IDSC event.
"We will continue to try to make a difference."
"Each of us has input. Each of us will receive benefits that we can take back to our Supreme Audit Institutions," remarked Mr. Juan M. Portal, Auditor General (AG) of Mexico and Chairman of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS), in his address to attendees at the XXVII OLACEFS General Assembly in Asunción, Paraguay.
The official opening ceremony October 3, 2017, jumpstarted the week-long event that included some 150 delegates from Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) taking part in presentations, panels and roundtable discussions.
Several associate members and observers also participated, including the Chair of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), INTOSAI General Secretariat, INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), the World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), as well as the Inter- American Development Bank (IADB).
The General Assembly focused on two themes this year— "The Use of Big Data Analysis in the Audit Function" and "Performance Audits in the Evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)"—with each theme being fully developed using a combination of presentations, panels and roundtable discussions.
"Big data will transform the way we live, think and work, and OLACEFS gives us the opportunity to come together, to address relevant topics and to share ways to improve," announced Mr. Martín Rubione, Chief of SAI Argentina's Information Technology (IT) Audit Department and OLACEFS Commission of Information and Communication Technologies (CTIC) representative.
Minister Augusto Nardes, SAI Brazil, agreed, emphasizing that using big data to improve good governance requires collaboration.
"Our dream of working together to protect our continent is coming to fruition through cooperation. Little by little, the work we are doing crosses borders, and OLACEFS is important in developing endeavors for cooperation, friendship and solidarity," he said.
Mr. James-Christian Blockwood, Managing Director, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Strategic Planning and External Liaison (SPEL), recognized the synergies achieved in working together and invited OLACEFS members to participate and to join INTOSAI's Working Group on Big Data (WGBD), noting that the capacity to accept volume is a key aspect when it comes to harnessing and utilizing big data.
Mr. Wesley Vaz-Silva, SAI Brazil's Secretary of Information Technologies for External Control, believes all auditors are information analysts. Mr. Vaz-Silva provided attendees with an overview of new, user-friendly technology that empowers auditors through immediate, automated data.
"Technology that is easy to use helps change the mindset of auditors," mentioned Mr. Vaz- Silva, adding, "How do we engage the entire community in understanding and using big data? Auditors must be involved in this movement! We must experiment! We may fail, but we have to try!
"In a presentation on open government and the challenges to government auditing, Ms. Carolina Cornell, Advisor on Open Government Coordination, Republic of Argentina's Modernization Ministry, shared the Argentine experience.
Ms. Cornell underscored the importance of creating a formal space for collaboration between government and Civil Service Organizations (CSOs).
"Transparency, participation, accountability. We can contribute to the lives of citizens through these principles," she said.
Attendees unanimously agreed that distinguishing between data and information is crucial, citing only well-prepared data, precise information is applicable for political decision-making. As the quality of available data is decisive, national statistical institutes shall be strengthened in a sustained manner.
"Little by little, the work we are doing crosses borders, and OLACEFS is important in developing endeavors for cooperation, friendship and solidarity."
—Minister Augusto Nardes, SAI Brazil
Delegates also discussed performance audits on the SDGs and concluded that SAIs serve as principal agents and guarantors for SDG implementation and monitoring, that SAIs should act as watchdogs on how the 17 goals are put into practice.
Does SDG introduction mean we need to work differently, change how we audit?
"The difference is not the SDGs but how you deal with them. SDGs need a different approach from SAIs. Findings will be very different if SDGs are looked at in the traditional way," cited Ms. Archana Shirsat, IDI Deputy Director General.
"We need to raise awareness. We need to go beyond the audit report. We need to join efforts, resources and political will!" remarked Mr. Luis Fernando Velásquez- Leal, Executive Director, Corporación Acción Ciudadana Colombia (AC Colombia).
"There are many lessons to be learned, many ways to contribute, many ways to share, to add value and provide benefits to citizens," he added.
Dr. Andrés Bernal Morales, SAI Colombia, believes a greater investment is needed from the very beginning to help ensure the public is the beneficiary of all established policies.
Mr. Roberto Salcedo Aquino, Deputy Auditor General of SAI Mexico, which chairs the Working Group on Value and Benefits of SAIs (WGVBS), proclaimed, "This voice is our voice!"
Mr. Aquino furthered that the OLACEFS assembly and similar venues "allow us to bring down to the ground what we want to reach in 2030."
The 2030 Agenda is an aggressive one, and SAIs play a pivotal role in the agenda's success. Mr. Julio Bacio- Terracino, OECD, shared his thoughts on how corruption makes SDG achievement difficult and how SAIs and the work they perform play a fundamental role in preventing corruption.
Delegates stressed the importance of sufficient and comprehensive training and capacity building measures concerning SDG audits. OLACEFS intends to organize annual meetings on SDG implementation follow-up within the region paying special attention to the fight against poverty and hunger, the violation of human rights, as well as environmental protection and education.
The highlight of the General Assembly was the adoption of the "Declaration of Asunción on Budget Security and Financial Stability of SAIs," which was signed by all OLACEFS SAI heads.
This declaration provides information on legal foundations of SAI independence and concrete actions and measures that enhance SAI financial independence.
Ms. Dorothy Bradley, Auditor General of Belize, said, "We were going public without going public," she said, as she described collaborating with several external organizations including OLACEFS while not focusing on announcing the process publicly.
"The lack of a budget and resources means we cannot be innovative, that we will do more of the same," noted Dr. Jorge Bermudez-Soto, Comptroller General of the Republic of Chile and OLACEFS Executive Secretary.
Monika Gonzalez-Koss, Director of the INTOSAI General Secretariat, pointed to increasing awareness as the means to secure more resources.
"We must continue with our efforts to raise awareness about independence and its importance. SAIs need a clear vision, a clear strategy to request greater independence with greater resources," she said.
As the XXVII OLACEFS General Assembly drew to a close, it was officially announced that SAI Argentina would host the 2018 regional gathering in Buenos Aires.
The Commission for Information and Communication Technologies (CTIC), currently chaired by the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of Argentina (AGN), moderated the "Use of Big Data Analysis in Governmental Auditing" round table technical discussion during the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) in Asunción, Paraguay.
Dr. Francisco Javier Fernández, AGN Auditor General and CTIC President, alongside Mr. Martín Rubione, AGN Chief, Information Technology (IT) Audit Department and CTIC representative, provided participants with a holistic vision of Big Data analysis from a SAI perspective.
Different discussion tables were coordinated to foster an exchange of regional experiences that may help SAIs in promoting and utilizing Big Data analysis in audits, particularly since Big Data makes it possible to quickly process enormous amounts of unstructured data.
Public sector use of Big Data has already begun, and it is creating considerable opportunities for SAIs, such as enriching institutional planning; predicting important events; providing information on public perception of SAIs, as well as auditees; detecting fraud risk; and measuring the effectiveness of public policies.
Just as telescopes and microscopes once allowed humanity to discover unimagined new worlds, Big Data is now ushering us in to a new era of knowledge. This entails important challenges and responsibilities related to information privacy and confidentiality when applied within the public sector.
Primary conclusions that emerged from the roundtable discussions were to: include activities related to data analysis in the strategic plans of each SAI; identify current capabilities and generate comprehensive training plans to provide auditors with the knowledge necessary to perform data analysis and to use modern technological tools properly; and promote digital awareness about data analysis and the use of Big Data.
To this end, the CTIC remains strongly committed to working together with SAIs in the region to foster the use of big data in different audit processes—to add value to products and contribute to the improvement of public sector management.
The Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and Associates (EFSUR) approved and implemented new appointments and several initiatives, including surveys, audits, and thematic studies, at the XIV Coordination Group and XXII EFSUR Joint Commission meetings held in San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador, in September 2017.
New appointment. Ms. Graciela De la Rosa, Auditor General for SAI Argentina, assumed responsibilities as EFSUR Executive Secretariat and represents the AGN for EFSUR activities.
Survey of Freight Transport Road Corridors in MERCOSUR. During 2017, SAI Argentina (AGN), in collaboration with SAIs of Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela, prepared a consolidated report on the coordinated survey, “Special Study 2015/2016, On Road Corridors in MERCOSUR.” The report, approved by the EFSUR Joint Commission, includes future audit tasks based on weaknesses detected during the survey.
Governance of Public Policies in Border Region. Delegates discussed the "Governance of Public Policies in Border Regions" project, including the proposed survey, methodology and time frame for intermediate product distribution. The project will be shared with the Latin American and Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) through the region’s Capacity Building Committee (CCC), which will provide input into planning the project’s coordinated audit.
Audit issues to be Implemented in 2018. EFSUR approved a special report on South American Council for Infrastructure and Planning (COSIPLAN) projects at EFSUR borders proposed by SAI Argentina based on the “Consolidated Report on the Survey of MERCOSUR Road Corridors.” SAI Paraguay will assist on preparing the report expected to be completed in 2019. Additionally, approval was given to conduct a special report that links EFSUR member countries gender-related activities to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5), “Gender Equality.”
Thematic Study. Survey on Gender Legislation. SAI Ecuador’s proposal to update the “Progress Report on Gender Legislation in EFSUR Member and Associated Countries” was sanctioned as part of EFSUR’s “II Compilation of Gender Legislation 2017.”
From October 23-27, 2017, roughly 200 participants representing 42 members of the African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI) and special guests attended the 14th AFROSAI General Assembly.
Hosted by Auditor-General of the Republic of Namibia (the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of Namibia), the conference included numerous presentations, technical committee reports and working group updates along with workshop sessions devoted to SAI cooperation with justice officials and certification of accounts challenges and perspectives.
Mr. Junias Etuna Kandjeke, Auditor General, SAI Namibia and incoming AFROSAI President, welcomed participants at the opening ceremony, remarking on the progress AFROSAI has made toward creating a sustainable, relevant, reliable organization since its last assembly in Egypt three years ago.“
We aim to not just promote financial governance but be a shining example of good governance in Africa through enhancing transparency,” he exclaimed.
Namibia’s Prime Minister, Ms. Saara Kuugongelwa, echoed the importance of transparency in her keynote speech.“
Transparency is necessary to create realistic expectations of government,” she stated.
She described auditing as the cornerstone of good public sector governance and reflected on the progress Namibia has made despite limited resources and a growing backlog of auditing reports. Ms. Kuugongelwa imagined reform as the way forward, citing the African economy's slow growth and emphasizing the need for a paradigm shift. Ms. Kuugongelwa remained confident that, with the full support of AFROSAI and its partners, Namibia and the African economy would achieve full potential.
“We need deeper engagement with national challenges. All members of AFROSAI have at their disposal tools and trainings to promote good governance and financial management,” she asserted.
The outgoing AFROSAI President and President of the Accountability State Authority of Egypt (ASA), Counselor Hesham Badawy, presented AFROSAI’s achievements since the last assembly, which include adopting Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to increase cooperation and facilitate knowledge sharing with organizations, such as the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI), the African Organization for Public Accounts Committees (AFROPAC), the World Bank, the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Development Initiative (IDI), the African Union, and Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German development agency.
Mr. Badawy also noted communication challenges among AFROSAI members and expressed his hope for a solution to integrate the multiple linguistic groups composing AFROSAI.
The official languages used are French, English, Portuguese and Arabic, which are divided into three linguistic subgroups, namely:
The event included a focus on "Global Expectations and Ambitions for SAIs in Supporting Agenda 2030," and Mr. Herbert Baumgartner, representing the INTOSAI General Secretariat, discussed the central role SAIs can play in successful implementation of Agenda 2030 and the importance of forging relationships with stakeholders to operate in a global and effective manner.
Presentations and panel discussions with AFROSAI partners covered strategies to tackle illicit financial flows (IFFs). GIZ discussed several actions SAIs can take in tackling IFFs, including ensuring transparency, raising awareness and monitoring compliance. The challenges require a coherent approach across agencies and sectors, and the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) added that domestic, regional and international cooperation and information sharing is crucial.
The Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) called for a multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary, multitasked process and shared a country profile tool designed to assess a country’s risk and ability to combat IFFs, reiterating the importance of a whole of government approach.
Participants also exchanged thoughts and perspectives on amendments to AFROSAI’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, paying particular attention to emerging and crosscutting issues that act as influencers, including SDGs, IFFs and professionalization.
Small group discussions incorporated into the week-long event allowed attendees to dive deeper into topics including how auditors can develop a framework for working with justice officials; challenges in achieving and maintaining SAI financial independence; and receiving adequate training to conduct financial audits.
Event highlights included the announcement of an exciting coordinated audit involving AFROSAI and the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) dealing with protected areas in Africa and Latin America; the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration; endorsement of the Declaration on Illicit Financial Flows; and establishing MOUs between AFROPAC, ATAF, CABRI, AFROPAC, and the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA).
As the 14th AFROSAI General Assembly concluded, it was announced that SAI Senegal will host the next general assembly in 2020.
Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are called upon to lead by example, as stated in ISSAI 20, “Principles of Transparency and Accountability,” and International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) tools support SAIs as models of integrity, transparency and accountability, which leads to an enhanced reputation and legitimacy among citizens and relevant stakeholders.
One such INTOSAI tool is the Self-Assessment of Integrity (IntoSAINT) that consists of a three-day workshop moderated by two representatives from another institution. The workshop allows SAI staff to (1) perform a risk analysis focused on integrity, (2) assess the maturity level of their internal control systems on this matter and (3) generate a report to top management with recommendations designed to strengthen the institutional integrity policy.
The IntoSAINT mechanism is universal—it can be applied by all INTOSAI regional organizations—and the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS) has seen much progress in IntoSAINT implementation (82 percent of OLACEFS member SAIs as of December 2017). The Latin-American and Caribbean SAI strategies, based on four pillars, can be replicated worldwide.
Funding. Most IntoSAINT workshops were based on financial contributions from the SAIs, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB); the German Cooperation (GIZ); and CTPBG. Funding covered moderator travel expenses.
Advisory Services. The SAI of Mexico spearheaded IntoSAINT’s implementation in the OLACEFS region as the CEPAT chair and as project coordinator alongside the CTPBG chair (SAI of Argentina). The SAI of Mexico provided regional SAIs with guidance on planning and executing the tool, as well as assessing draft reports.
Workshop Planning. Moderators received advance planning guidance from regional project coordinators, which the OLACEFS Secretary General provided logistical arrangements as the legal body in charge of administering the region’s budget.
Workshop Execution. From 2015-2017, SAIs were invited annually to implement the IntoSAINT tool. Moderators received advance advisory services from regional project coordinators, and a workshop coordinator (at the selfassessed SAI) was appointed to facilitate logistics. Local moderators were also utilized during the workshop execution phase.
Follow-up Mechanisms. A survey on integrity mechanisms used by OLACEFS members was distributed at the end of 2017, and response analysis has allowed OLACEFS to make better informed decisions on future iterations of IntoSAINT implementation, as well as the use of integrity tools in general.
Moderator Training. In 2013, CEPAT carried out moderator training with NCA and CCC support. The training program was divided into two phases—a six-week virtual phase that included reading and exercise materials along with a two-day, onsite engagement in Mexico City to reinforce what was learned during the online portion. 30 moderators from 19 SAIs were certified.
Knowledge Sharing. Videoconferences were held to allow certified moderators to share challenges and good practices. Additionally the regional moderators published “The Relevance of the Promotion of Integrity in Public Sector Institutions in Latin America and The Caribbean. Perspectives, Progress and Good Practices on the Integrity Self-Assessment Tool in OLACEFS,” which was presented at the XXV OLACEFS General Assembly held in Queretaro City, Mexico, in November 2015.
Working Materials. Spanish materials were updated in 2017 to make them applicable to Integrity Self-Assessments in SAIs, as well as in public sector organizations in general (SAINT).
Advisory Services. The CTPBG is currently promoting seminars on integrity’s relevance in the public sector and providing OLACEFS member SAIs with advisory services when implementing SAINT workshops.
Implementation. The SAI of Chile has implemented SAINT workshops in 2015 and 2016, and a videoconference was held in October 2017 with OLACEFS member SAIs to launch a SAINT workshop in the region using CTPBG financial resources. In early 2018, other SAIs will join the journey of promoting Self-Assessments of Integrity in public sector organizations.
The OLACEFS CTPBG encourages INTOSAI member SAIs to witness the value and benefits of the INTOSAI Integrity Model and extends an invitation to cooperate and collaborate with other regions to further promote this initiative that creates SAI and public sector organization capacities. To find out more, contact the OLACEFS IntoSAINT Coordinator IntoSAINT@asf.gob.mx
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on Value and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions (WGVBS) held its 10th meeting September 6-8, 2017, in Mexico City. The WGVBS, which has been chaired by Mr. Juan M. Portal, Auditor General of Mexico, since 2013, aims to develop mechanisms and tools to promote the value and benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs).
Delegates from 15 SAIs attended the meeting hosted by SAI Mexico, including: Cameroon, China, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kuwait, Mexico, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States of America. Representatives from the World Bank also participated.
Discussions focused on the numerous working group projects currently underway, such as:
Additionally, the sub-group responsible for disseminating the value and benefits of SAIs with jurisdictional functions updated working group attendees. The sub-group is presently developing guidance for inclusion in the INTOSAI Framework of Professional Pronouncements.
The meeting agenda also included national case study presentations that fostered a healthy exchange of experience and lessons learned, as well as a panel-led round table discussion on the impact of SAI work.
The panel, which included representatives from Mexicanos Unidos contra la Corrupción (a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)) and Red por la Rendición de Cuentas (an enterprise consisting of 80 public, social and academic institutions focusing on promoting accountability in the public sector), led discussions on corruption and different perspectives on conquering it, taking into consideration SAI mandates and the crucial roles citizens play in preventing corruption.
The constant and active participation of working group members allows SAIs to share and access knowledge and experiences on how audit work contributes to transparency, accountability, improving government performance, that leads to better quality of life for citizens.
For more information on the 10th WGVBS meeting, please visit: www.wgvbs.org.mx.
“The WGVBS has a great mandate—to develop instruments and mechanisms to support SAIs on illustrating their usefulness to citizens. Let's start with us! We need to be model organizations, which promote transparency and accountability among our societies. We must go above and beyond to have a greater impact on the lives of citizens by being clearer, more precise and releasing understandable messages to our stakeholders."
—Mr. Juan M. Portal, AG of Mexico and WGVBS Chairman
The Republic of the Philippines’ Commission on Audit (COA) hosted the 2017 annual meeting of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on Public Debt (WGPD) in Manila, Philippines, in September, hosting 37 delegates from 17 Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs).
Keynote speaker Mr. Erwin D. Sta. Ana, Deputy Treasurer of the Philippines, opened the event by discussing the Philippines’ current debt situation and the debt management initiatives its national government employs. Mr. Sta. Ana presented several metrics to characterize the host country’s debt profile, illustrating the Philippines is in a sound fiscal position. The favorable debt metrics have resulted in an improved credit profile and landmark transactions that, in turn, have led to innovative financing sources. The Philippines’ national government continues to work on key initiatives to ensure debt sustainability in the long term.
WGPD’s Strategic Plan 2017-2022 was a highlight of this year’s meeting. The INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) acknowledged the strategic plan’s alignment with INTOSAI’s Strategic Plan 2017-2022, as well as the plan’s incorporation of capacity development, which paves the way for a more unified and competency-oriented approach to achieve INTOSAI goals.
IDI expressed interest in the performance measurement framework the WGPD proposed and suggested focusing on WGPD project and initiative expected outcomes in addition to outputs using an evidence-based method to collect information.
The working group additionally discussed Project 2.9, “Consolidating and Aligning the Audit of Public Debt with ISSAI 100.” This major undertaking aims to develop a new INTOSAI Guidance (GUID) that applies ISSAI 100, “Fundamental Principles of Public Sector Auditing,” in conducting public debt financial, performance, and compliance audits. The project, expected to be finalized in December 2019, aspires to publish guidance that facilitates public debt audits and quality audit reports beneficial to sound public debt management and good governance.
The agenda also included a presentation on the “Audit of Lending and Borrowing Frameworks (ALBF),” a five-year program conducted by the IDI. IDI representatives provided beneficial information using the ALBF handbook, which focuses on strengthening audit performance and capacities in assessing borrowing and lending frameworks—a critical aspect of public debt auditing.
At the event’s conclusion, Mr. Manish Kumar, representing SAI India, confirmed his SAI was looking forward to hosting a productive and memorable WGPD meeting in October 2018.
For more information about the WGPD:
Established in 1991 under INTOSAI’s Strategic Goal 3 (Knowledge Sharing), the WGPD encourages proper reporting and sound management of public debt. 2017 marked a unique point in time for the working group as they endeavor to continue performing their mandate under new leadership, as the Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF), Republic of Mexico, officially handed over WGPD chairmanship reins to the COA. SAI Mexico, under the leadership of Mr. Juan M. Portal, chaired the WGPD for 25 years and ensured a smooth chairmanship transition through active communication and knowledge sharing. The COA vows to continue the long tradition of sharing knowledge and experience through stronger cooperation with, and support from, WGPD members.
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on the Fight Against Corruption and Money Laundering (WGFACML) held its 11th meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, September 25-26, 2017.
The meeting, hosted by Dr. Mussa Assad, Auditor General, National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT), and chaired by Counselor Hesham Badawy, Accountability State Authority (ASA)of Egypt, centered on two themes: “Stolen Assets Recovery” and “Audit of Corruption Prevention in Public Procurement.”
Throughout the meeting, participants shared expertise and discussed current activities Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are undertaking to fight corruption and prepare for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation.
The SAI of Ecuador provided a special presentation on the concept of “Social Control” and how to engage citizens to combat corruption. The two-day agenda also included brainstorming sessions where participants unanimously agreed to include forensic audit in the WGFACML work plan.
The Xth European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) Congress resolution extended the mandate of the Working Group on Audit of Funds Allocated to Disasters and Catastrophes, which is chaired by the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine. The Congress also approved the Working Group’s Activity Report for 2015-2017, as well as the Strategic Plan for 2017-2020.
One of the working group's strategic objectives for the next period is implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, paying particular attention to Goal 11 “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable."
The Istanbul Declaration, approved by the Congress, endorsed the need for EUROSAI to uncover best practices to respond to the growing number of emergencies, especially mass migrations and cyber-attacks. The declaration also greatly expands the group's field of activity and creates new future benchmarks.
Riigikontroll, the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of Estonia, hosted the third Young EUROSAI (YES) conference September 11-14, 2017, in Tallinn, Estonia. Roughly 100 young auditors, representing members of the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) and special guests, participated in the inspiring, innovative conference.
The Journal sat down with YES Coordinator, Ms. Krislin Kivi, before the event to learn about the inspiration behind the concept for this year’s YES conference.
Building off the enthusiasm of the previous Young EUROSAI conference hosted by the State Comptroller's Office of Israel in 2015, the YES planning team at SAI Estonia began preparations for the conference about a year and half prior to the event. During several brainstorming sessions, all ideas pointed back to one theme: data and digitalization. Thus, the theme “Updates Available” was born.
As Ms. Kivi explained, “There are always developments in digitalization going on and auditors have to keep up.”
The rapid pace of technological innovation, along with the increasing availability of data, demands an array of technical and analytical skills. Auditors must continuously “update” their skills to remain current.
With that in mind, guest speakers, such as heads of SAIs of Estonia, Netherlands, and Finland, as well as experts in the digital information economy and e-governance, were invited to dialogue with the young auditors. The structure of the four-day conference encouraged significant audience engagement.
The first day included an original kick off featuring a group activity, which, Ms. Kivi added, was “unlike other conferences where the social activity is at the end of the event.” After a brief introduction, participants formed small teams and embarked on a self-guided scavenger hunt through historical Old Town Tallinn.
Day two found attendees gathered at the Mektory, a center for innovation at the Tallinn University of Technology. The first half of the day focused on the age of open information, and the second half stimulated thinking outside the box.
Moving remarks from Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid, the President of Estonia, officially opened “Updates Available,” inspiring youth leadership and emphasizing technology’s impact in auditing.
“The quickly changing technological landscape demands the younger generation take responsibility for their desired future decades earlier,” she said, adding, “We cannot see technology as a problem, but as a solution!”
Entrepreneur, researcher and technologist, Dr. Rufus Pollock, illustrated what a sustainable digital age would look like—citing examples where social problems could be solved by an open government—if data was made available to everyone. He demonstrated a dynamic and inclusive system where an increase in ideas leads to an increase in innovation.
His formula—“Open Data + Many Minds = Insight & Savings.”
Mr. Mihkel Solvak, senior researcher in technology studies at the University of Tartu, presented on real-time predictive analytics where he discussed how real-time data produced by e-government could help diagnose problems and provide better services to the people.
“The data is there, we simply need to build predictive models off of them,” he asserted.
Renowned speaker, writer and communications coach, Mr. Gleb Maltsev, conducted an exercise on the components of an effective 90-second “elevator pitch”—a succinct sales speech.
Following the coaching, ten participants proposed ideas to the entire audience on prevalent social issues in various fields ranging from education and health care to national security. The audience, divided into several teams, fleshed out potential solutions using open or big data. Each team, equipped with an experienced mentor to help guide the discussion and generate ideas, regrouped and presented a full solution to event participants, who then voted on their favorite solution.
The third day emphasized sharing experiences, and the YES spirit, characterized by excitement and innovation, did not fail to deliver.
There were 15 participant-led workshops held concurrently during three sessions throughout the day demonstrating the impact of the data explosion and digitalization on audit work. Attendees were exposed to different perspectives in audit and data covering a wide variety of topics, such as conducting financial audits using big data and data analysis; data gathering and management in the pre-audit process; and data’s impact on cyber security.
“Download and Install” represented the finale theme where participants reflected on the future of e-governance in public service and attended a panel discussion on the future of auditing.
Tallinn University of Technology’s Dr. Robert Krimmer concentrated on how open data will change e-governance. He challenged participants to consider innovation as the product of citizen interest and engagement with the government. He called for developing services in a different way—making processes more interactive and virtual while considering government and citizens as cocreators, co-designers and co-implementers of services and information gathering.
The day transitioned to a lively panel discussion on e-governance and auditing’s future. The panel, which included the Auditor General of Finland’s National Audit Office, Ms. Tytti Yli-Viikari; Dr. Krimmer; and Mr. George Worlledge from the United Kingdom’s (UK) National Audit Office; was effortlessly moderated by Mr. Urmet Lee from SAI Estonia.
During the panel event, a riveting discussion on how to determine when citizen engagement is best—at the beginning of an audit where opinions on the audit’s direction would be considered or during the audit when opinions on findings would be encouraged—took place, resulting in one clear notion across the panel…citizen engagement does not mean involvement at every step. But, it should be considered at some point.
At the panel’s conclusion, Mr. Worlledge enthusiastically announced that the UK would play host to the next EUROSAI YES conference and invited interested participants across the region to join the planning committee to continue the collective power of engagement.
Updates Available was marked by inspirational speakers and an energetic audience. Participants helped shape the agenda and determined meeting outcomes. The event’s interactive nature was further emphasized with audience engagement tools during presentations, such as live polls and Q&A sessions. By providing a space to share experiences, success stories, challenges confronted, Updates Available continued the momentum of YES, strengthening the network of young professionals and inspiring them to take action!
Delivering engaging, interactive presentations was a YES event highlight, and #FAIL succeeded in inspiring young auditors to take chances! Remaining relevant in a constantly changing world requires continuous innovation. At the same time, change, which can be difficult, requires experimentation and, more often than not, failed attempts. In a joint presentation developed from Rekenkamer (SAI Netherlands) and the Wales Audit Office, young auditors were exposed to applying innovation in the auditing field.
The workshop kicked off with an introduction to the change adoption curve, where participants were asked to identify where they, as well as the institutions for which they work, fell within the range from “innovators” to “laggards.” The outcomes demonstrated that individuals identified as innovators and early adopters (quick to adopt change) while their respective institutions were perceived as laggards (slow to adopt change).
Ms. Sanne Kouwenhoven, representing SAI Netherlands, along with Mr. Stephen Lisle and Mr. Simon Lloyd-Smith from the Wales Audit Office shared personal experiences working in program teams designed to promote innovation and utilize data analytics within their organizations.
Lisle and Lloyd-Smith discussed a specific project, “Cutting Edge,” dedicated to “cutting edge audit through cutting edge technology and cutting edge people.” According to Wales Audit Office leadership, the project, which incorporated junior staff members, added tremendous value and led to considerable investment in data analytics.
Ms. Kouwenhoven revealed some successes (and failures) with “DOEN,” a SAI Netherlands program geared toward innovation. DOEN, the Dutch verb for “doing,” emphasized “doing different things and doing them differently,” she explained. Conducting innovative audits with a focus on data analysis and visualization, as well as experimenting with new methods, such as participatory audits, were a few of the program’s innovative initiatives.
During the collaborative presentation, a lack of cultural change was highlighted as a barrier to innovation. The presenters shared that having buy-in from senior management; empowering junior staff to take risks, providing ample project resources, and affording teams the freedom to fail were additional ways to adopt, and adapt to, change.
#FAIL encouraged participants to risk failure in order to succeed!