Tenth ASOSAI Assembly and Third Symposium
The Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) held its 10th Assembly
and Third Symposium in Shanghai, China, September 10–16, 2006. Hosted
by the China National Audit Office (CNAO), the assembly drew delegates from 40
member SAIs as well as observers from the INTOSAI Secretariat General, INTOSAI
Development Initiative (IDI), this Journal, and the SAIs of the Côte d’Ivoire, the
United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
Li Jinhua, Auditor General of China, and Han Zheng, the Mayor of Shanghai, led
the opening ceremony at the Shanghai International Convention Center and warmly
welcomed the delegates. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sent the delegates a welcome and
Guillermo N. Carague, head of the SAI of the Philippines and chairman of the ASOSAI Governing Board, thanked the board for its active participation during his tenure (2003-2006). He noted that ASOSAI's membership had steadily increased, from 36 at the last assembly to 43 at this assembly, and welcomed the new members- Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cambodia, Georgia, Laos, Mauritius, and Qatar. Mr. Carague noted, "The stakeholders increasingly look towards the Supreme Audit Institutions to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability. It is with this objective of continuously enhancing the quality of public audit that we have joined together to form ASOSAI."
Later in the proceedings, Mr. Carague handed over the chairmanship of ASOSAI to Li Jinhua. Mr. Li noted that during Mr. Carague's tenure, ASOSAI sponsored many training and capacity-building activities and made substantive progress in promoting ASOSAI's development in the 21st century. He expressed his hope that ASOSAI members, working side by side, would continue to make progress in attaining the objectives specified in the ASOSAI charter.
Mr. Vijayendra Kaul, ASOSAI Secretary General, updated the delegates on the following activities since the last assembly:
The Third Symposium's main theme was The Role of Auditing in Promoting Government Accountability. Mr. Cheng Siwei, Vice Chairman of the 10th National People's Assembly Standing Committee, delivered the keynote speech, emphasizing that from the perspective of the management and use of public resources, government accountability should cover process as well as finances and performance. Mr. Micha Lindenstrauss, State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel, delivered a special report.
The INTOSAI Secretariat and the SAIs of Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the United States presented papers for discussion. The following are highlights of their presentations.
INTOSAI’s Role in Promoting Accountability
Dr. Josef Moser, INTOSAI Secretary General, noted that "the global process of change that affects government audit presents special challenges for INTOSAI." He used the INTOSAI tsunami initiative to illustrate how INTOSAI is helping promote government accountability worldwide by spurring development of global rules of conduct for the use of public funds.
Malaysia’s Best Practices
Tan Sri Dato' Setia Ambrin bin Buang, Auditor General of Malaysia, described the evolving role of the National Audit Department in promoting government accountability. He concluded that (1) better government accountability could be achieved by adhering to high moral values, (2) all parties need to pay due attention to and comply with procedural and legislated requirements, (3) responsibilities must be clearly de- fined and understood, and (4) measurability means greater transparency, integrity, and ultimately accountability.
Importance of Performance Information
Kevin Brady, Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand, described his office's broad legislative mandate, experience, and independence as well as its importance in promoting accountability. He stressed the importance of understanding the performance information process as part of the strategic and choice-making context. By thinking about the appropriateness of entities' outputs, the targets, and the effect of entities' efforts and achievements, performance planning and actual performance information form a relevant and necessary feedback loop.
Facilitating Foresight on Emerging Issues
David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, suggested that SAIs should complement their traditional responsibilities by providing policymakers with foresight about key emerging issues. As an example, he cited GAO's publication of an unprecedented report entitled 21st Century Challenges that asks probing, and sometime provocative, questions about current government policies, programs, and operational practices.
New Global Paradigm
Muhammad Yunis Khan, Auditor General of Pakistan, discussed the three aspects of accountability: fiscal, managerial, and program. He stated that there are three global drivers of a paradigm shift-globalization, technical innovation, and customization. Mr. Khan noted, "Strategic alliances between SAIs in research, developing processes, and knowledge sharing will create a professional advantage, strengthening trust and enhancing credibility for SAIs with their stakeholders. In return, the stakeholders will benefit . . . at the international level."
A lively and interactive discussion involving 20 countries or agencies followed the presentations. The discussion generally focused around five themes: (1) the importance of government accountability, (2) auditor relations with legislative bodies and the media, (3) auditor relations with auditees, (4) the importance of mutual cooperation, and (5) auditors' roles and capacities. Delegates had mixed views about the suggestion that SAIs develop better relations with legislative bodies, the public, and the press if they are to strengthen the effectiveness of the accountability system. Some delegates believed that the news media should function as the bridge between auditors and the public, supporting and complementing audit work. Others thought that auditors should limit themselves to giving the media confirmed facts about audit results. Some delegates believed that it would be beneficial for auditors to have a participative relationship with the auditee and that such a relationship is possible without jeopardizing the auditor's independence and objectivity. Others believed that in promoting such relations with auditees, auditors risk becoming too involved in decision making relating to the auditee's policies.
Participants agreed that the existing cooperation between ASOSAI and the INTOSAI Secretariat should continue and be strengthened. SAIs should also consider strengthening relations with each other and improving accountability and transparency across national borders. Dr. Anwar Nasution, Chairman of the Indonesian SAI, suggested that SAIs collaborate with each other to assess governmental efforts to prepare for the possibility of an avian influenza pandemic. Discussion also focused on the auditor's ability to reach a larger audience with its reports and the need to focus on the auditor's right to impose sanctions. There was also much discussion on the need to enhance both auditor training and the ability of audit institutions to promote government accountability.
Election of New Members and Other Business
The assembly approved the SAI of China as the incoming chairman. It also unanimously appointed Mr. Vijayendra Kaul to another term as ASOSAI's Secretary General. The SAIs of Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey were elected to the Governing Board. The SAIs of Jordan and Outer Mongolia were elected to the Audit Committee.
The Governing Board also approved the papers presented at the Third Symposium, the report of the ASOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing, and the report of the INTOSAI Professional Standards Committee meetings. It also approved the budget for 2006-2008.
Mr. Khan, Auditor General of Pakistan, invited participants to the 11th ASOSAI assembly, which will be held in Pakistan in 2009.
Throughout the conference, the Auditor General of China treated participants with warmth and hospitality. Mr. Li Jinhua hosted a banquet for delegates and invited guests at the Shanghai Convention Center; the banquet was followed by a performance of the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. The auditors general of the Philippines, India, and Pakistan also hosted dinners at different venues.
Delegates and invited guests had the opportunity to ride the magnetic levitation train from the Long Yang Subway Station to Pudong International Airport and back and also visited the Oriental Pearl Tower, where they were able to view Shanghai, have lunch, and learn about Shanghai's history at the City Museum. Guests also toured Shanghai's Museum of Art and Urban Museum. The Shanghai mayor, Mr. Han Zheng, hosted the closing banquet at the Shanghai Exhibition Hall. Delegates and invited guests were treated to a boat ride on the Huangpu River, where they veiwed a beautiful fireworks display.
Information on the ASOSAI Assembly and Third Symposium is posted on the CNAO
Web site. For additional information, contact the China National Audit Office:
IDI’s Early Years
At its inception, the IDI Secretariat was attached to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. A Board of Directors was set up, headed by the Auditor General of Canada and the Comptroller General of the United States.
IDI began operating in 1987 with the delivery of its first training programs and the distribution of the first edition of the International Directory of Audit Training Information. IDI set up an advisory group composed of representatives from INTOSAI regions and other SAIs, thus setting the tone of close collaboration to determine training needs and to develop and deliver training programs on a regional or subregional basis.
During IDI's first 10 years (1986-1995), the programs developed were typically technical training courses tailored to meet the specific needs of SAIs in different regions. The courses emphasized (1) enhancing the skills of audit practitioners in audit planning and supervision, computer auditing, and audit testing and (2) equipping the managers of training and personnel departments with new skills through management workshops and seminars.
The Changing Role of IDI
After 10 years, an INTOSAI-wide review of IDI programs and activities pointed to the need for a stronger emphasis on developing regional training infrastructures to ensure the sustainability and long-term viability of results achieved at the regional and local levels. IDI therefore developed and, in 1996, launched the Long Term Regional Training Program (LTRTP), which was to focus primarily on developing human and institutional resources at the regional level, with expected benefits also accruing to individual SAIs. The key objectives of these long-term programs were to help regional groups and member SAIs enhance their training capabilities and broaden the scope of their training and information exchange activities by establishing training infrastructures to ensure the sustainability and viability of regional training programs. Key elements of the LTRTP were establishing new regional training committees, developing regional operational training plans, establishing regional training guidelines, and forming a pool of graduate training specialists in each region that could assess and meet training needs by organizing relevant local and regional training activities.
The LTRTP was designed to foster regional groups and subgroups that could increasingly take responsibility for their own capacity building, from determining training needs to designing, developing, delivering, evaluating, and funding regional training programs. The IDI Secretariat would gradually play a less direct role in regional training. Instead, it would provide coordination and support; facilitate the exchange of methodologies and technologies; help identify human, material, and monetary resources; and provide guidance and advice.
The IDI Secretariat: from Canada to Norway
In 1998, the 16th INTOSAI Congress endorsed a proposal to transfer the IDI Secretariat from the SAI of Canada to the SAI of Norway at the beginning of 2001. It was felt that after 15 years, a change of leadership and venue would be beneficial to IDI and provide added incentives for new ideas and endeavors. The transfer progressed smoothly, and the new IDI Secretariat in Norway was initiated in 2001.
By 2003, the LTRTP had been delivered in all INTOSAI regions. Regional training committees were in place, regional training plans were being implemented, and each region had a pool of approximately 25 training specialists available to the region as a whole and to the individual SAIs. This freed the IDI Secretariat to concentrate on its new role.
A survey of SAIs in developing nations was conducted in 1999 and 2000, and that information was used to shape the IDI strategic plan for 2001-2006. The plan envisioned maintaining and further developing the regional training infrastructure and expanding programs into new areas, such as cooperating more systematically with INTOSAI standing committees and working groups and exploring e-learning as a new training vehicle for SAIs.
Following a broad-based, consultative planning process during 2004-2005, IDI developed a new long-term strategy for 2007-2012. This strategy reflects the emphasis in recent years on moving from simple classroom training to "training for impact" to ensure that training does not become an end in itself but rather a means to the end of strengthening the capability of target SAIs.
IDI's new focus is also reflected in the INTOSAI strategic plan for 2005-2010, where the IDI is seen as an important partner in achieving strategic goal 2, institutional capacity building, rather than merely the training arm of INTOSAI.
The Future of IDI
IDI's strategic plan for 2007-2012 seeks to further this strategic shift and uphold the excellent reputation that IDI enjoys in the INTOSAI community. At the same time, IDI will coordinate its efforts with the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee and other INTOSAI entities to ensure synergy and avoid duplication of effort.
IDI’s Partnership with Stakeholders
A key factor in the success of the IDI concept has been the active input and valuable in-kind support received at every stage from INTOSAI members. Without the strong support from SAIs that have provided subject matter experts, hosted IDI workshops, or made their training specialists available for workshop design and delivery, IDI's work would have ground to a halt.
Financial donors also provide crucial support to IDI. Without the approval of the Norwegian Parliament and financial support through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NORAD (the International Development Cooperation Agency), the Norwegian SAI could never have accepted the responsibility of hosting the IDI Secretariat. The direct financial contributions provided by multilateral donors and international development cooperation agencies from many countries have made it possible for IDI to deliver relevant and innovative capacity-building programs to SAIs of developing countries.
1 Partnering contracts include any mutually beneficial contractual relationships between public and private sector
parties that involve a collaborative approach to achieving public sector outcomes.
2 The guidance, Achieving Public Sector Outcomes with Private Sector Partners, is available on our Web site, www.oag.govt.nz.