Technical Articles

International Journal of Government Auditing – October 2010


Insights on INTOSAI: Perspectives from the Regional Working Groups

INTOSAI’s seven regional working groups—AFROSAI, ARABOSAI, ASOSAI, CAROSAI, EUROSAI, OLACEFS, and PASAI—will carry forward important INTOSAI initiatives in the coming years. Two of those groups (AFROSAI and EUROSAI) share here their perspectives on the work they have accomplished in recent years and their region’s prospects for the future.

AFROSAI on the Move

Since the 2007 INTOSAI congress in Mexico—and in particular since the 2008 AFROSAI General Assembly in South Africa—AFROSAI has worked to overcome its language barriers and become a more dynamic organization. Its members have demonstrated a serious commitment to strengthening the organization and its three language subgroups (Arabic, English, and French) by adopting strategic and operational plans for 2009–2011. Currently, 49 of the 53 states on the continent are members of AFROSAI. The South African SAI chairs AFROSAI and the Libyan SAI hosts the General Secretariat. AFROSAI is governed by a Board of Directors comprising the heads of the SAIs of Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mauritania, South Africa, Sudan, and Tanzania.

AFROSAI’s development strategy operates according to a basic premise: enhanced cooperation and solid relationships resulting from an effective secretariat and a focused training and research program will help to secure the support of key stakeholders for AFROSAI’s institutional capacity-building initiatives. The plans that AFROSAI has adopted facilitate the implementation of its activities, and an institutional and technical capacity-building committee was created to activate those plans.

By August 2009, it was evident that an increased workload and the complexity of supporting the administration and work content of AFROSAI’s Board of Governors and its various committees was too great a task for a single SAI to perform to the desired standard and within prescribed time frames. To overcome this problem, it was proposed that the secretariats of the three language subgroups should each undertake certain functions on behalf of the Secretary General. This operating structure was tested in practice before the Board of Governors adopted it, together with a comprehensive responsibility matrix, in August 2010.

  • The Arabic subgroup currently consists of seven countries and works in close cooperation with ARABOSAI, which provides support in strategic planning as well as training in financial and performance audit. Its secretariat, which is based at the SAI of Tunisia, takes care of an information center, a Web site, a scientific competition, and a journal of comprehensive auditing.

  • The English subgroup (AFROSAI-E), hosted in South Africa, represents 21 English-speaking and 2 Portuguese-speaking SAIs and is charged with handling aspects of strategic planning and coordination, institutional capacity building, finance and administration, and auditing. Since 1998, the subgroup has adjusted its modus operandi several times and currently is focusing on management development to enhance the institutional capacity of its member SAIs. This overarching program covers all elements of SAI operations, including technical capacity building and management of the various fields of audit.

  • The French subgroup (CREFIAF) consists of 19 French-speaking countries, 1 Spanish-speaking country, and 3 Portuguese-speaking countries that are also members of AFROSAI. The SAI of Cameroon hosts its secretariat and handles matters relating to technical capacity building and human resources. This group has been quite busy with wide range of audit training interventions such as leadership and change management that include a particular focus on women. A study on strengthening institutional capacity will be presented at an extraordinary General Assembly meeting in Cape Verde during September 2010.

Compiling a comprehensive AFROSAI manual was a highlight in the organization’s history. The manual is designed to establish and maintain good governance practices within AFROSAI by consolidating all relevant governance prescriptions and organizational decisions in one reference document, which will be available to all AFROSAI members and stakeholders and will be updated regularly.

AFROSAI secured donor support from the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. This support is implemented by GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), which seconded two experts to provide strategic and technical assistance. Other donors, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB), have expressed an interest in cooperating with AFROSAI and will formulate their interventions in the coming months. AFROSAI-E currently receives donor support from Sweden, the Netherlands, and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI); CREFIAF receives support from Canada, the AfDB, and IDI.

While much work has been done, there is still plenty to do. For the next 3 years, AFROSAI will focus on consolidating past achievements, implementing its strategic plan and extending it until 2014, and supporting language subgroups so that they can enhance SAI capacity in their subregions. Sharing good practices and knowledge within the AFROSAI community is another major regional challenge to be addressed during the implementation of the strategic plan.

The challenge for the next 3 years will be to strengthen AFROSAI as an organization whose voice will be recognized in matters of good financial governance. This will include encouraging language subgroups to support member SAIs in strategic planning and capacity building so that they can accomplish their role as watchdogs for public finances and resources.

For additional information, contact the AFROSAI Chair at agsa@agsa.co.za.

 

EUROSAI 2008-2011

It has been 2 years since the Polish SAI (NIK) assumed the presidency of EUROSAI, which gives us the opportunity to summarize the activities undertaken to date and other initiatives planned for the future. Some activities resulted from the resolutions of the 7th EUROSAI congress, held in Krakow in June 2008, while the NIK as the Chair of the Governing Board has undertaken others on its own initiative. All the activities reflect the issues the organization needs to address—namely, strengthening and developing EUROSAI and making better use of INTOSAI’s methodological achievements and opportunities to exchange experiences among its regional groups.

Undoubtedly, the development of EUROSAI’s first strategic plan (to cover the years 2011–2017) has been the flagship undertaking in recent years. The Governing Board appointed a task force (comprising the NIK as chair and the SAIs of Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom). The task force developed a draft strategic plan, which members and observers of the Governing Board are currently reviewing. During the next consultation stage, all EUROSAI members will have the opportunity to comment on the draft. The amended document will then be resubmitted to the Governing Board, which will formally adopt the final version of the plan at the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011. The draft plan will be debated at the 8th EUROSAI Congress, to be held in Lisbon in May/June 2011.

Since the draft strategic plan is not yet an official document, it is too soon to present detailed information on its contents. We can say that it lists activities and projects designed to achieve EUROSAI’s strategic goals and objectives. Its implementation is also meant to contribute to executing INTOSAI’s strategy in Europe and maximizing the effective use of INTOSAI initiatives and products to further develop public sector auditing in the European region.

The seminar entitled Raising Awareness of International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) was another effort designed to promote INTOSAI’s methodological achievements. Held in October 2009 in Warsaw, the seminar was organized by the Polish NIK in cooperation with the Danish Rigsrevisionen (the chair of the INTOSAI Professional Standards Committee) and focused on the management of European SAIs. Representatives of 26 EUROSAI SAIs took part in the seminar, along with participants from outside EUROSAI.[1]

During the 7th EUROSAI Congress, one of the themes was establishing an audit quality management system within a supreme audit institution. The discussion at the Congress led to the development of a EUROSAI guide on good practices for audit quality. This project is being carried out by a task force chaired by the SAI of Hungary and comprising the SAIs of Denmark, Malta, Poland, Russia, and the European Court of Auditors. (It will be presented to the upcoming EUROSAI Congress in Lisbon).

The EUROSAI Presidency is addressing the second theme of the 7th congress, auditing programs for professional integration of the disabled, through several initiatives—a seminar on performance auditing of social programs in the field of professional integration of the disabled and a parallel audit on employment of disabled persons in the public sector. The seminar was held January 14–15, 2010, in Warsaw and was organized in cooperation with the European Institute of Public Administration. The NIK is coordinating the parallel audit, which involves 14 SAIs and will be completed later this year. The report on the audit will be presented to the 8th EUROSAI congress in Lisbon in 2011.

As the Chair of EUROSAI, the NIK suggested that the Governing Board consider cooperating with the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing (ECIIA). The NIK and the SAIs of Belgium and France are negotiating opportunities for and the scope of this potential cooperation.

The NIK is also actively supporting cooperative initiatives with other INTOSAI regions that previous EUROSAI presidents initiated. These include EUROSAI cooperation with ARABOSAI and OLACEFS. For the 6th EUROSAI–OLACEFS conference, held in Venezuela in May 2009, the NIK prepared and chaired a session entitled “Present and Future Challenges and Defense and Preservation of Natural Resources.” Representatives from 14 OLACEFS SAIs and 14 EUROSAI SAIs participated in the conference.

Thus, the NIK presidency has focused on new initiatives of strategic importance to EUROSAI (developing a strategic plan for 2011–2017, promoting the ISSAIs, and establishing cooperation with ECIIA). At the same time, it continues to support ongoing issues important to EUROSAI (such as audit quality and audits of programs for the professional integration of the disabled).

While chairing the EUROSAI Governing Board, the NIK has also addressed technical issues designed to improve communication within EUROSAI and between EUROSAI and its external partners. The Web site of the 7th EUROSAI congress (www.eurosai2008.pl) has an Internet news portal in Polish and English that complements the official EUROSAI Web site (www.eurosai.org) hosted by the General Secretariat in Spain. A newsletter is regularly sent to congress Web-site subscribers and all EUROSAI members. An electronic version of the official congress report can be downloaded from the Web site; in the near future, a special section will be dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the establishment of EUROSAI.

Time will tell whether all the ambitious plans that the NIK adopted when it became the chair of the Governing Board at the June 2008 EUROSAI Congress will be realized. However, we are certain that none of the activities and initiatives we have undertaken would have been possible without the active support from EUROSAI members, and we are very grateful for this support.

For additional information, contact the EUROSAI Chair at wsm@nik.gov.pl.


[1] See the report on this seminar in the April 2010 issue of this Journal. The report is available
online at www.intosaijournal.org/pdf/ijga_apr10_english_journal_www.pdf.