News in Brief

International Journal of Government Auditing – Spring 2017

Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN SUPREME AUDIT OFFICE CAPS 2016 WITH POSITIVE ENGAGEMENTS

Photo: Nine men visible seated behind desks inside a building.
Meeting between Afghanistan President and SAO Auditor General

Photo:  Eleven people standing in a row together inside a building.
SAO Auditor General meets with PAC and World Bank

Auditor General Meets with Afghanistan’s President
Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan met with Dr. Mohammad Sharif Sharifi, Auditor General  (AG)  of  the  Supreme  Audit  Office  (SAO)  of Afghanistan, and his team in the Presidential palace. The AG updated the President on the SAO's work and activities.

SAO Holds 5-Day Seminar with Senior Government Officials
SAO Afghanistan hosted a seminar for more than 100 senior officers from government ministries, including the Ministry of  Finance,  to  discuss  challenges  faced  in  government accounting and the audit process, as well as the way forward for overcoming these challenges. Afghanistan’s Second Vice President, Mr. Sawar Danesh, expressed pride in the SAO’s work in ensuring better accountability and transparency of public funds.

SAO Learns About Citizen Engagement Mechanism in Nepal
Senior staff from SAO of Afghanistan visited Nepal’s Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to study Nepal’s lessons learned during the implementation of its Citizen Engagement Framework. World Bank representatives and various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working with SAI Nepal also met with SAO Afghanistan delegates to share best practices on citizen engagement.

Afghanistan, Sweden Auditors General Discuss Cooperation
SAO Afghanistan’s Auditor General met with SAI Sweden’s Deputy Auditor General, Mr. Magnus Lindell, in December 2016. The historic meeting focused on how the two SAIs can collaborate on future endeavors.

AG Hosts Public Accounts Committee and World Bank
The Afghanistan Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and World Bank representatives visited with Afghanistan’s AG and discussed various issues on improving the working relationship between SAO and the PAC. The AG also updated the team about SAO’s current capacity building initiatives.

Auditor General’s Report Presented to Media, General Public
Afghanistan’s Deputy Auditor General, Mr. Mehdi Hussaini, presented the AG Report on the audit of government accounts for the last fiscal year at the Government Media and Information Center in November.

Intensive Training of 180 Auditors Completed
All auditors of SAO Afghanistan completed a one-month intensive refresher-training course on audit fundamentals in December 2016. The training focused on equipping auditors with skills in the areas of audit planning, risk assessment, internal control reviews, analytical reviews, working paper management and report writing.

Afghanistan Auditors Attend Training in India
Staff from the SAO Afghanistan’s Performance Audit and State Owned Enterprises Audit Departments participated in a 10-day training session facilitated by the SAI of India at the end of last year.

SUPREME AUDIT OFFICE OF AFGHANISTAN INCREASES STAFF KNOWLEDGE THROUGH TRANSLATION

Photo:  Prof. Dr. Mohammad Sharif Sharifi

Throughout its history, the International  Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) has taken great strides to develop and improve the public sector body of knowledge, including the creation of various guidelines and principles to help SAIs deal with numerous challenges faced in their operations. Roughly 3 years ago, the Afghanistan Supreme Audit Office (SAO) senior management realized a need for radical change to become more open to the use and adaptation of best practices associated with INTOSAI’s guidelines and standards.

This realization came from a slower-than-expected pace associated with implementing best practices that was occurring, even though staff were exposed to numerous training programs and sent abroad for international meetings and capacity building sessions. A survey was conducted to understand the underlying cause, and the most prevalent answer pointed to the fact that most of the technical literature is in English, making it hard for many staff to easily comprehend and appreciate the concepts being discussed. While English is used and encouraged within our SAI, Afghanistan’s primary languages are Dari and Pashto. This is also the case for training conducted within many institutions in the area.

Solving this Roadblock
Believing it was important that all key INTOSAI technical documents and guidance materials be translated from English to Dari and distributed to staff, SAO senior management enlisted the help from the firm currently providing technical assistance in developing the SAO’s compliance audit capacity, Cowater International.

Within five months, the first drafts were submitted to SAO senior management and key technical staff for review. Necessary adjustments were made, and the SAO training department began organizing intensive training and distributing the Dari-translated materials, which have resulted in SAO staff gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the numerous INTOSAI standards and guidelines. Electronic versions have also been uploaded onto the SAO’s website to provide no-cost access to interested stakeholders.

The following are some of the INTOSAI documents that have been translated into Dari:

  • INTOSAI Strategic Plan;
  • Fundamental Principles of Public Sector Auditing;
  • Fundamental Principles of Performance Auditing;
  • Fundamental Principles of Compliance Auditing;
  • Compliance Audit Guidelines;
  • Performance Audit Guidelines

Fruits of this Initiative and the Way Forward
Our SAI has been able to see a significant improvement in the quality of discussions and deliverables of our audit staff as a result of this initiative due to audit staff gaining knowledge and becoming more conversant with the ISSAI requirements and guidelines.

We are continuing to use these developed materials for our newly recruited audit staff. Refresher training is also regularly conducted for staff who previously took the introductory training.

The SAO also plans to continue translation important materials into Dari deemed useful for our auditors. Though the translation process is quite grueling, the results are testament that going the extra mile in acquiring knowledge is a worthwhile cause.

Recommendation to Regional SAIs
Given the diversity of languages used by various SAIs worldwide, various regional groupings should consider translating important INTOSAI Publications into the common, regional languages. Translating will go a long way in helping to ensure important insights are more widely read and used to the betterment of our public sector auditors.