by Karol Mitrík, President, Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic
Public administrations worldwide are increasingly challenged by society and stakeholders to demonstrate and improve value for sustainable development. Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) serve as important pillars of national socio-economic systems and play pivotal roles in enhancing public sector performance, which means meeting the highest professional standards and levels of integrity.
It is imperative SAIs adopt a culture aimed at continuously improving and investing resources to develop capacities needed to discharge duties and achieve established goals while also maintaining independence.
A SAI’s reputation is based on output quality, so it remains vital to seek excellence in this area. Arguments for achieving excellence are, perhaps, more compelling for SAIs than other institutions due to the nature of SAI work—reviewing or assessing actions of others.
Quality and excellence are rarely achieved spontaneously—they must be managed. Quality influences credibility and relevance, and leadership, responsible for establishing and operating a quality management system, should make it a priority. Obtaining independent recognition on quality by incorporating accredited and accepted quality standards is essential, but how can SAI work truly be evaluated?
A peer review, though demanding, provides benefits and added value that usually exceed the costs. Considering the unique position SAIs occupy in the public sector, a peer review is a worthwhile investment.
By voluntarily undertaking a peer review, a SAI makes its work available for external assessment based on internationally accepted auditing standards—of great importance at both national and international levels.
While the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic (SAO SR) is not compelled to undertake an external assessment under the country´s legal framework, present SAO SR leadership reached out to colleagues from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the peer review team lead, along with the SAIs of Finland, Hungary and Poland, to take a closer look at SAO SR operations—planning, audit activity quality, and openness and communication.
The assessment will follow International Organizations of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) guidance, and the peer review team has already held its first meeting earlier this year. Additional meetings are planned with final report delivery expected in December 2020.
The SAO SR champions the peer review process and continues leading by example. As the Subcommittee on Peer Review Chair, the SAO SR organized a successful peer review conference in 2018 and plans to host a similar event in 2021. For more information about peer reviews, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.