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International Journal of Government Auditing:

April 2004:

Vol. 31, No. 2:

©2004 International Journal of Government Auditing, Inc.

The International Journal of Government Auditing is published quarterly 
(January, April, July, October) in Arabic, English, French, German, and 
Spanish on behalf of INTOSAI (International Organization of Supreme 
Audit Institutions). The Journal, which is the official organ of 
INTOSAI, is dedicated to the advancement of government auditing 
procedures and techniques. Opinions and beliefs expressed are those of 
editors or individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the 
views or policies of the organization.

The editors invite submissions of articles, special reports, and news 
items, which should be sent to the editorial offices at U.S. General 
Accounting Office, Room 7814, 441 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20548, 
U.S.A. (phone: 202-512-4707; facsimile: 202-512-4021; e-mail:

Given the Journal's use as a teaching tool, articles most likely to be 
accepted are those which deal with pragmatic aspects of public sector 
auditing. These include case studies, ideas on new audit methodologies 
or details on audit training programs. Articles that deal primarily 
with theory would not be appropriate.

The Journal is distributed to INTOSAI members and other interested 
parties at no cost. It is also available electronically at and by contacting the Journal at

Articles in the Journal are indexed in the Accountants' Index published 
by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and included 
in Management Contents. Selected articles are included in abstracts 
published by Anbar Management Services, Wembley, England, and 
University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.

Board of Editors:

Franz Fiedler, President, Court of Audit, Austria:

Sheila Fraser, Auditor General, Canada:

Mohamed Raouf Najar, Premier Président, Cour des Comptes, Tunisia:

David M. Walker, Comptroller General, United States:

Clodosbaldo Russian Uzcategui, Comptroller General, Venezuela:


Helen H. Hsing (U.S.A.)


Donald R. Drach (U.S.A.)

Assistant Editors:

Linda J. Sellevaag (U.S.A.)

Alberta E. Ellison (U.S.A.).

Associate Editors:

Office of the Auditor General (Canada):

Khalid Bin Jamal (ASOSAI-India):

Luseane Sikalu (SPASAI-Tonga):

Michael C.G. Paynter (CAROSAI-Trinidad and Tobago):

EUROSAI General Secretariat (Spain):

Khemais Hosni (Tunisia):

Yadira Espinoza Moreno (Venezuela):

INTOSAI General Secretariat (Austria):

U.S. General Accounting Office (U.S.A.).


Sebrina Chase (U.S.A.)

Members of the Governing Board of INTOSAI:

Yun-Churl Jeon, Chairman, Board of Audit and Inspection, Korea, 

Arpád Kovács, President, Allami Számvevöszék, Hungary, First Vice-

Osama Jaffer Faqeeh, President, General Auditing Bureau, Saudi Arabia, 
Second Vice-Chairman:

Franz Fiedler, President, Rechnungshof, Austria, Secretary General:

Arah Armstrong, Director of Audit, Audit Department, Antigua and 
Barbuda: Valmir Campelo, Ministro, Presidente do Tribunal de Contas da 
Uniăo, Brazil:

Leopold A.J. Ouedraogo, Inspecteur Général d'Etat, Burkina Faso:

Mohamed Gawdat Ahmed El-Malt, President, Central Auditing Organization, 

Vijayendra N Kaul, Comptroller and Auditor General, India:

Tsutomu Sugiura, President of the Board of Audit, Japan:

Bjarne Mřrk Eidem, Auditor General, Riksrevisjonen, Norway:

Genaro Matute Mejía, Contralor General, Contraloría General, Peru:

Alfredo José de Sousa, President, Tribunal de Contas, Portugal:

Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, Auditor General, Audit Department, Tonga:

Mohamed Raouf Najar, Premier Président, Cour des Comptes, Tunisia:

Sir John Bourn, Comptroller and Auditor General, National Audit Office, 
United Kingdom:

David M. Walker, Comptroller General, General Accounting Office, United 

Guillermo Ramírez, President, Tribunal de Cuentas, Uruguay:



News in Brief:

Making the World a Better Place:

An Interview with Sheila Fraser:

Current Trends in Environmental Auditing: Waste and Water Management:

Going Back to School:

Getting Started: Brazil:

Getting Started: Sri Lanka:

Getting Started: Iran:

Regularity Auditing and the Environment:

Working Together to Tackle Regional Problems:

Reports in Print:


IDI Update:

INTOSAI Calendar:

[End of Contents]

Environmental Auditing and Sustainable Development: SAIs Matter:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]



Editor's Note: The INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing is 
seeking ways to collaborate with the United Nations Environmental 
Programme (UNEP) on issues of mutual concern. In this context, Klaus 
Toepfer, Executive-Director of UNEP, shares his views with Journal 
readers on the importance of the SAI role in the environmental arena.

The connection between Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) and sustainable 
development may not be obvious to most people at first glance. 
Sustainable development--that is, development that meets the needs of 
the present generation without compromising the ability of future 
generations to meet their own needs--would appear to have little to do 
with government auditing. However, when one reflects on the fact that 
sustainable development rests on three pillars--society, the economy, 
and the environment--and that all three are closely related and equally 
important to the well-being of people and nations, the connection 
becomes more apparent. Simply put, sustainable development cannot be 
achieved without good governance, and good governance, in turn, is 
greatly furthered by the valuable work of SAIs.

Therefore, SAIs can play a vital role in informing and supporting 
efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The Environment and Development:

The environment is our life support system--it provides people with the 
goods and services essential for human survival, well-being, cultural 
diversity, and economic prosperity. Current rates of growth in the 
consumption and transformation of environmental resources are 
threatening the sustainability of this life support system and our own 
security. For this reason, there is a need to cherish the environment 
and to continually improve our understanding of the relationship 
between the environment and development, including interactions with 
human society.

[Sidebar: "Sustainable development cannot be achieved without good 
governance, and good governance, in turn, is greatly furthered by the 
valuable work of SAIs."]

In its report Our Common Future (1987), the World Commission on 
Environment and Development captured the complex linkages among the 
different environmental problems and between the environment and 
development. The report noted, "From space, we see a small and fragile 
ball dominated not by human activity and edifice but by a pattern of 
clouds, oceans, greenery and soils . . . .We can see and study the 
Earth as an organism whose health depends on the health of all its 
parts. We have the power to reconcile human affairs with natural laws 
and to thrive in the process."

Furthermore, major development challenges, such as those expressed in 
the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Millennium 
Development Goals, are closely related to the main environmental 
problems. Alleviating poverty and promoting fair trade, good health, 
food security, and access to energy are closely related to climate 
change, the loss of biodiversity, land and water degradation, the 
depletion of stratospheric ozone, and the accumulation of waste and 
persistent organic pollutants in the environment.

Since the United Nations General Assembly established the United 
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1972, a key component of its 
mandate has been to monitor the world environmental situation. UNEP 
does so to ensure that emerging environmental problems of broad 
international significance receive appropriate and adequate 
consideration by governments. Environmental change induced by humans 
has accelerated over the last three decades, as UNEP's flagship Global 
Environment Outlook (GEO) reports clearly illustrate. The increasing 
complexity of environmental degradation and its linkages to many other 
factors have profound implications for sustainable development and its 
other pillars--society and the economy.

Environmental Threats and Governance:

As we monitor and review the condition of the world's environment, the 
connection between environmental threats and governance becomes vividly 
apparent. Governance is an overriding issue that applies to all levels 
and sectors of society--from the local to the global level and from the 
private to the public sector. It has an impact on all aspects of 
society--law and human rights; political, parliamentary, democratic, 
and electoral systems; civil society; peace and security; public 
administration; public information; the media; the corporate world; and 
the environment.

Both awareness of and attention to governance issues have grown in 
every aspect of modern life, not least in relation to the environment. 
However, our progress in this area has failed to match the rate of 
environmental degradation. If we are to succeed in addressing this 
degradation and the consequent threats to the human environment, our 
dedication to good governance must be as great as our dedication to 
sound environmental policies. And that dedication must be coupled with 
a resolve to improve our approach to governance--a paradigm shift in 
the way that governance is carried out and decisions are made and 

We must recognize that greater democracy and transparency are not 
abstract, procedural safeguards, but essential components of the 
framework on which sustainable development rests. Ensuring that the 
public is informed of and involved in decision making is an essential 
part of this process. Keeping the public informed of government 
actions--what is sometimes referred to as "government in the sunshine"-
-has been shown to be a highly effective means of ensuring that the 
environment is taken into account in decision making. In short, 
"government in the sunshine" means "green government."

[Sidebar: Keeping the public informed of government actions--what is 
sometimes referred to as "government in the sunshine"--has been shown 
to be a highly effective means of ensuring that the environment is 
taken into account in decision making.]

The power of the people to influence policy has long been recognized. 
As the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace stated in 1972, 
"It is only through the deep concern, information and knowledge, 
commitment and action of the people of the world that environmental 
problems can be answered. Laws and institutions are not enough. The 
will of the people must be powerful enough, insistent enough, to bring 
about the truly good life for all mankind."

Promoting Transparency on Environmental Issues:

SAIs play a vital role in facilitating the transparency of government 
operations and ensuring that an informed public guides the actions of 
governments. SAIs promote sound financial management and public 
accountability--both of which are essential elements of sustainable 
development. Moreover, SAIs' independence in carrying out financial, 
compliance, and performance or value-for-money audits puts them in a 
unique position to legitimately and credibly evaluate the efficiency 
and effectiveness of government policy and obligations.

In this context, UNEP's greatest area of interest is the growing 
importance of SAI environmental auditing at the national level and the 
work of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) in 
particular. UNEP has recently started exploring with the WGEA ways of 
mutually reinforcing one another's activities. For UNEP, the initial 
point of contact is through our GEO integrated environmental assessment 
(IEA) reports and related processes ( GEO uses the 
driving forces-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) approach to 
assess the state of the environment. The DPSIR approach links the 
following questions:

* What is happening to the environment and why?

* What is the impact on the environment?

* What are the policy responses and their impact?

The work of environmental auditors therefore provides an invaluable 
source of independent, legitimate, and credible information that 
assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental policy at 
the national level. This information not only can feed into GEO reports 
at the global, regional, subregional, and national levels, but also can 
make an important contribution to UNEP's overall mandate of keeping the 
global environmental situation under review. We encourage the WGEA to 
continue its work of promoting environmental auditing in as broad and 
integrated a manner as possible, bearing in mind the constraints 
inherent with highly diverse systems at the national level.

Capacity-building in Environmental Auditing:

Lastly, a few words on capacity-building, which I know that my friend 
and colleague James Wolfensohn wrote about in the January edition of 
this Journal. We recognize that this is a key area for collaboration 
between UNEP and INTOSAI's WGEA because both of us face overwhelming 
demands from our individual constituencies. I consider the first pilot 
courses in environmental auditing that the WGEA and the INTOSAI 
Development Initiative (IDI) recently sponsored to be a very positive 

Through collaboration between the WGEA and GEO, we plan to improve our 
IEA methodology and training materials by incorporating environmental 
auditing approaches and outputs. Effective capacity-building in both 
environmental auditing and IEA can provide countries with the tools and 
knowledge they need to make informed decisions, bring about positive 
change, and ultimately contribute to sustainable development. This will 
be no small achievement.

Special Environmental Auditing Issue of the Journal:

Although environmental auditing is now a mainstream practice for many 
SAIs, it is relatively new for others. Real and perceived barriers keep 
others from getting started. The purpose of this issue of the Journal 
is to share the experiences of SAIs in this field in order to increase 
the awareness of environmental auditing within INTOSAI and provide 
ideas on how to build and improve SAIs' capacity to undertake 
environmental audits. In addition to our regular features, this issue 
includes articles from around the world in which contributors tell us 
about their SAIs' environmental auditing experiences and share the 
insights they have gained.

[End of article]

News in Brief:

Antigua and Barbuda:

Report on Government Accounts Submitted:

In October 2002, the Director of Audit of Antigua and Barbuda submitted 
her report on government accounts for the years 1995-2000.

The Audit Department experienced many problems in auditing these 
accounts. However, with the assistance of Treasury Department 
consultants, the accounts are almost up to date.

The accounts for the years 1995-2000 were tabled before the House on 
October 22, 2002, and referred to the Public Accounts Committee. At 
press time, the Committee had not taken final action to consider the 
accounts as required by law.

The Audit Department plans to complete the audit of the 2001 and 2002 
government accounts within the current (2004) financial year.

For more information, contact: the Audit Department, fax: ++1 (268) 
460-5960; e-mail:

Federal Republic of Germany:

Annual Report Issued:

The Federal Court of Audit, Germany's SAI, recently presented its 2003 
report to the legislative bodies and the federal government. The 
report's 82 items reflect a major portion of the SAI's audit and 
advisory work. Most of the observations address highly topical issues 
that are still open for remedial action, indicating excess expenditures 
and potential additional revenues of some 3,000 billion euros.

The annual report consists of five chapters: comments about federal 
appropriations and capital accounts for fiscal year 2002, contributions 
on specific audit findings, observations on advisory work done by the 
SAI, and comments on instances in which the executive branch of 
government has already followed the audit recommendations.

On November 25, 2003, the Court's President, Dieter Engels, presented 
the annual report to the public at a special press conference in 

He commented on some key features of the report, such as soaring public 
debt, inefficient public management, lack of oversight and visibility, 
and shortcomings in tax collection.

The report also highlights the findings generated by audit examinations 
into federal grants to research institutes, private sector bodies, and 
welfare organizations. Frequently, contracts awarded to private sector 
bodies lack sufficient monitoring and control. When the Court looked 
into the federal agencies' mission performance, auditors found that 
there were no adequate incentives to encourage staff to ensure that 
funds are used efficiently and effectively.

The complete report in German can be accessed on the Court's Web site. 
Once the abridged English version becomes available, it will also be 
placed in the Web site.

For additional information, contact: Federal Court of Audit, fax: ++49 
(1888) 721-2610; e-mail:; Web site:

Hong Kong:

New Director of Audit:

Upon the nomination and recommendation of the Chief Executive of the 
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr. Benjamin Kwok-bun Tang was 
appointed Director of Audit by the State Council of the People's 
Republic of China on December 1, 2003.

Mr. Tang joined the civil service in October 1974. He has served in 
different bureaus and departments during his 29 years of government 
service and is familiar with the operations of different parts of the 
government. His more recent appointments include those of Government 
Printer from March 1998 through January 2000 and Commissioner of 
Insurance from January 2000 through November 2003.

Mr Benjamin Kwok-bun Tang, New Director of Audit of Hong Kong:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

For more information, contact: Audit Commission, Immigration Tower, 7, 
Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, China; e-mail:; 
Web site:


Audit and Training Plan for 2004:

Hungary's State Audit Office (SAO) performs its auditing activities in 
accordance with an annual audit plan with a medium-term outlook. The 
president of the SAO approves the audit plan and is also responsible 
for its implementation. 

In 2003, the scope of the SAO's authorization was enhanced, thereby 
strengthening its role and authority. Under new legislation, the SAO's 
authority was increased so that it could audit the legality of the use 
of state property and government subsidies.

Over the past few years, audit obligations related to legal provisions 
have accounted for about 60 percent of the SAO's audit capacity. The 
remaining 40 percent is dedicated to selecting audit tasks and subjects 
related to timely and important social and economic issues, as well as 
audits involving the preparation of economic analyses and conclusions, 
thereby promoting transparency in the use of public funds and property.

Annually, the SAO is required to present an expert opinion on the state 
budget bill and audit the final accounts, the use of and accounting for 
subsidies provided to local governments from the central budget, and 
the operation and financial management of the state privatization 
company and the national news agency. In connection with Hungary's 
accession to the European Union, the SAO must also perform an 
accreditation audit of the institutional framework set up to implement 
the SAPARD (Special Assistance for Agriculture and Rural Development) 
program and to disburse support payments.

In 2004, the SAO will audit the current situation and the financing of 
pharmaceutical products, the model experiment of targeted patient care, 
PHARE programs (an European Union instrument for economic restructuring 
of accession candidates) implemented in health care, and the 
utilization of funds allotted to central and local government health 
care investments and reconstruction. In addition, the SAO will carry 
out a comprehensive audit of the Ministry of Health's Social and Family 
Affairs Chapter.

In view of changes taking place in the transfer of functions between 
the public and private sectors in Hungary (which is precisely why new 
auditing tasks were assigned to the SAO in the coming year), the SAO 
will pay special attention to auditing state tasks performed outside of 
the public finance framework. A separate system audit is planned for 
this purpose.

Based on the SAO's strategic plans and preliminary outlook program, it 
plans through 2006 to evaluate and analyze in detail interconnections 
related to environmental protection, the fulfillment of state tasks 
outside the public finance framework, health care, higher education, 
employment, the modernization of the armed forces, and revenues of the 
central budget.

The 2004 annual training plan has been drafted in line with the SAO's 
medium-term strategy and includes training seminars and other events 
related to financial audit, performance audit, accounting, the national 
tax system, quality assurance, sampling, local government financial 
management, and audit-related core issues of the European Union. Other 
practical courses, like communication training and management training, 
are also included in the plan. Courses to promote foreign language and 
information technology skills will also help to enhance the skills of 
SAO staff. New training will also include an introduction to the SAO 
Audit Manual and the course "Ethical Public Service Without 

Many government internal audit professionals attend the SAO's financial 
audit training. When performing their jobs, they apply, in part, the 
methodology learned at the SAO. In the near future, this training will 
be supplemented with an Internet-based distance-learning program.

For additional information, contact: State Audit Office, fax: ++36 (1) 
484-9201; e-mail:,; Web site:


New Supreme Audit Court Headquarters:

The Supreme Audit Court (SAC) of Iran, which dates back to 1906, is 
very proud of its long history of auditing for and accountability to 
the Parliament. Since that time, it has endeavored to guarantee the 
accountability of all public bodies that in one way or another benefit 
from the public treasury.

In order to provide better auditing and extend its functions and fields 
of work, the SAC headquarters has moved to a new and larger building 
with improved and updated working facilities. The building is located 
in northern Tehran and houses 488 members of the 1,294 staff working 
across the country.

For additional information, contact: Supreme Audit Court, fax: ++98 
(21) 888 99 30; e-mail:; Web site:


New Head of Board of Supreme Audit:

Mr. Ihsan K. Ghanim Al-Ghazi has been named the Acting President of the 
Board of Supreme Audit in the Republic of Iraq. The newly constituted 
Board resumed its audit functions in April 2003.

Mr. Ihsan K. Ghanim was born in 1941 in the Al-Najaf Governorate. He 
received a bachelor's degree in accounting from Baghdad University in 
1962 and the Certificate of Chartered Accountancy from the same college 
in 1973.

Mr. Ihsan K. Ghanim Al-Ghazi, Acting President of the Iraqi Board of 
Supreme Audit:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

He began his work with the Board of Supreme Audit in 1973, working in a 
number of different areas and positions. He was the director of the 
Financial and Economic Office, the Education and Knowledge sector, and 
the industry directorate for audit activity. He worked on audits in the 
areas of agriculture and construction, finance and distribution, and 
public services. He was the Vice President of the Board from 1997 until 
he was named to his new position.

He has participated in many training courses on accountancy, audit, and 
economy in Iraq and abroad and has been a lecturer in training courses 
and study programs for Baghdad University. He was Iraq's representative 
in auditing the League of Arab States for the years 1980-1984. He was 
also a member of the board of the Union of Iraqi Auditors and 
Accountants and has participated in many Arab and international 
conferences on financial audit.

Board of Supreme Audit Resumes Responsibilities:

Following the cessation of military actions in Iraq, the Board's 
employees took an active role in reestablishing its activities and 
rehabilitating its buildings in Baghdad and other regions of the 
country. The offices have been furnished and provided with the 
equipment and other supplies required for the Board's work. In 
addition, work programs have been developed to address needs based on 
the current situation in Iraq. In addition to audit tasks, the Board's 
work plan for 2004 includes several projects that aim to build the 
capacity of its employees and enhance their efficiency. The Board is 
preparing for this effort in coordination with concerned parties inside 
and outside Iraq.

The Board is helping to establish financial management and 
accountability in the new Iraq and to coordinate state finances with 
the Coalition Provisional Authority and related parties. The Board has 
been involved in settling obligations of the state and various 
administrations from the pre-war period. It has also worked to organize 
the handling of assets and properties damaged during the war. It has 
issued instructions on the procedures state administrations need to 
adopt in order to guarantee adequate control.

The Board has continued its cooperative relationships with technical 
organizations and Arab and other foreign SAIs, including the members of 
ARABOSAI. It has participated in several courses held by these 
organizations and has submitted a report to be included in the 
conference documents for the 8th ARABOSAI assembly.

For additional information, contact: Board of Supreme Audit, telephone: 
++004647901312492; e-mail:


Authority of Court of Audit's Regional Audit Chambers Expanded:

In October 2001, the Italian Parliament passed a constitutional law 
amending the 1948 Constitution.

The law reflects the evolution of the Italian State as a federal system 
and provides for the new constitutional status, powers, and structure 
of the nation's regions and for their relationship with Parliament and 
the central government.

Pursuant to these constitutional changes, the Parliament in May 2003 
also approved a law strengthening the role of Italy's Court of Audit in 
its capacity as an external audit institution charged with monitoring 
the implementation of public finance coordination.

In fact, with the decentralization of public administration and the 
increase in the number of spending centers, the provision of an 
autonomous regional system consolidates the need for a guarantee 
function safeguarding the "equilibrium" of public financing and the 
sound management of the public administrations.

Therefore, the new law provides a new structure for the Court's 
regional audit chambers and enhances their external audit powers, 
functions, and remits. Previously, the regional audit chambers 
consisted of three magistrates (one resident of chamber and two 
counselors) who were members of the Court. Under the new structure, a 
regional audit chamber consists of five members, as the law added two 
members appointed, respectively, by the Regional Council and the 
council of local authorities (provinces and municipalities) for 5-year 
terms (the usual term of the regional council). These members have the 
same legal status as the Court's magistrates, and their salaries are 
paid by the Regional Council.

The regional audit chambers have the following powers and functions, as 
enhanced by the new law, in relationship to regions, provinces, and 

* to monitor whether regions, provinces, and municipalities have 
maintained budget quilibrium in accordance with the internal growth and 
stability pact the European Union requested of its member states;

* to monitor whether they have reached the objectives set by state and 
regional program laws;

* to assess the soundness of their financial management and the 
efficiency and effectiveness of their activities; and:

* to audit their internal control systems.

During 2004, the Court's regional audit chambers are implementing these 
enhanced performance audit activities of the regional and local 

For additional information, contact: Court of Audit, fax: ++39 (06) 38 
76-8011; e-mail:; Web site:


New President of the Court of Auditors Named:

Ms. Faiza Kefi has been named the new President of the Tunisian Cour 
des Comptes (Court of Auditors). She holds a master's degree in law, a 
doctorate from the University of Administrative Sciences, and a 
specialized degree in educational planning.

Ms. Kefi held various positions at the National Education Ministry and 
subsequently at the Ministry of Women's Affairs. She was president of 
the Tunisian National Women's Union for 7 years and was elected a 
Member of Parliament in 1994.

She has also held several other high-level posts in the fields of 
politics and associations. She was appointed Minister of the 
Environment and Regional Planning in 1999, Minister of Employment and 
Vocational Training in 2001, and subsequently Tunisian Ambassador to 

For additional information, contact: Cour des Comptes, fax: ++216 (71) 
83 12 53; e-mail:

United States of America:

2003 Performance and Accountability Report Issued:

In November 2003, just 45 days after the close of the fiscal year, the 
U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) published its 2003 Performance and 
Accountability Report.

In his introduction to the report, Comptroller General David Walker 
stated that 2003 was an outstanding year for GAO. "Looking over the 
past year, our work addressed many of the difficult issues that 
confront the nation, including diverse and diffuse security threats, 
changing demographic trends, increasing interdependency, rapidly 
evolving science and technology changes, a variety of quality-of-life 
issues, as well as government transformation challenges and increasing 
budgetary constraints . . . . In these and other areas of our work, the 
American people benefited this year as federal agencies took a wide 
range of actions based on our analyses and recommendations and as our 
efforts heightened the visibility of issues needing attention." GAO's 
work during 2003 led to $35.4 billion in financial benefits--a $78 
return on every dollar GAO spent--and numerous other improvements 
without a price tag. "I believe that those who read this report will 
agree that the taxpayers received an excellent return on their 
investment from GAO," the Comptroller General said.

In addition to data on GAO's overall performance, the report highlights 
progress in meeting each of GAO's strategic goals. It also includes 
GAO's fiscal year 2003 financial statements, which received an 
unqualified opinion from its independent auditor, the 17th such clean 
opinion. The report includes a wealth of information on GAO's 
operations, including an overview of its organization and management, 
summaries of key work performed by each audit team, significant 
financial and other accomplishments, and information about human 
capital and information technology initiatives.

GAO again plans to submit its annual report for consideration under the 
Certificate for Excellence in Accountability Reporting program 
sponsored by the Association of Government Accountants, which cited the 
2002 GAO report for excellence. The 2002 report was also one of only 
two government reports that received the highest rating in an 
assessment of electronic reporting of government performance 
information by the IBM Center for the Business of Government, E-
Reporting. This study assessed the convergence of two trends--
performance measurement and electronic reporting--to measure how well 
federal, state, and local governments kept the public informed of their 
activities. The 2002 report also won an American Graphic Design Award 
for publication design.

GAO's current and former Performance and Accountability reports are 
available at

For additional information, contact: GAO, fax: ++(202) 512-4021; e-

[End of News in Brief]

Making the World a Better Place to Live One Audit at a Time: Improving 
Governance and Accountability in Environmental Protection:

By: Noel Carisse, Liliane Cotnoir, Carolle Mathieu, and John Reed, 
Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

Rapid and profound changes have taken placed across our planet over the 
past few decades. Not only have our societies undergone rapid 
transformation at the hands of new economic and technological forces, 
but the physical world in which we live--our natural environment--is 
also being transformed. In 2002, the United Nations Environment Program 
(UNEP) released its third Global Environmental Outlook, also known as 
GEO-3. Assembled by leading scientists and experts from around the 
world, the Outlook paints an alarming picture of our planet's 
condition. Rainforests and coral reefs are disappearing; drinking water 
supplies are contaminated with disease-causing agents and toxic 
chemicals; air pollutants cause respiratory ailments in children and 
adults; land is spoiled by the dumping of hazardous wastes; 
overexploitation of resources is putting many animals and plants on 
endangered species lists; and global warming is producing unprecedented 
changes to our climatic system. (See text box for the key environmental 
trends identified in GEO-3.) The Global Environmental Outlook and other 
UNEP assessments show that there have been significant changes in our 
lives and the environment over the past 30 years.

While some notable improvements have been achieved, the overall state 
of the environment is more fragile and degraded than in 1972. For many 
SAIs, none of this is news. They have identified issues of waste 
management, water and air pollution, forest loss, land degradation, and 
impaired ecosystems as the top environmental issues facing their 
respective countries.

Our governments are responsible for dealing with these problems and 
working toward solutions. It isn't an easy challenge. Because 
environmental problems are rooted in economic and social policies, they 
occur at all levels from local to global (and thus can involve 
municipal, regional, and national governments), and success requires 
action by many players over long periods of time. Nevertheless, 
governments around the world have addressed environmental issues over 
the years through the creation of environmental ministries, policies, 
and programs and through international institutions and treaties, laws 
and regulations, and expenditures.

How Do Auditors Fit In?

What does the condition of our planet's environment have to do with 
auditors, you might ask? Well, if the thousand-plus environmental 
audits conducted by SAIs over the past decade are an indication, quite 
a lot!:

Key Environmental Trends:

[See PDF for image]--graphic text:


* Loss of natural forest is 14.6 million hectares annually (an area the 
size of Nepal).

* Deforestation of tropical forests is almost 1 percent annually.

Biological Diversity:

* About 24 percent of mammals and 12 percent of bird species are 
currently regarded as globally threatened.


* About 1.1 billion people still lack access to safe drinking water and 
about 2.4 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.

* Lack of access to a safe water supply and sanitation results in 
hundreds of millions of cases of water-related diseases and more than 5 
million deaths every year.

[See PDF for image]

Photo Source: Kiyoshi Okamoto, IDI Norway.

[End of figure]


* Indoor and outdoor air pollution is estimated to be responsible for 
nearly 5 percent of the global burden of disease. In developing 
countries, 500,000 people die annually from outdoor pollution and 1.9 
million from indoor pollution.

* The overall warming amounts to about 0.6 degrees centigrade over the 
20th century; the 1990s were the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest 
year since 1861. The warming is largely due to emissions of carbon 
dioxide from fossil fuel combustion.


* From 33 percent to 50 percent of solid wastes generated in most 
cities in low-and middle-income countries are not collected.

* Fewer than 35 percent of cities in the developing world have their 
wastewater treated.

Source: UNEP/GEO-3.

[End of figure]

"Environmental auditing" is a catchall term used to describe a range of 
audit activities focused on the environment. While there are many 
variations, SAIs are currently engaged in three basic types of auditing 
with an environmental perspective: financial (attest), compliance, and 
performance (value-for-money). Each of these is formally described and 
defined in INTOSAI auditing standards and in guidance prepared by the 
INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA). Environmental 
audits apply general audit methods and standards with a different 
focus. When conducting environmental audits, auditors might ask the 
following questions:

* Do the financial statements properly reflect environmental costs, 
liabilities (including contingent liabilities), and assets?

* Is the organization spending money in accordance with financial rules 
and governing legislation?

* Is the government complying with international environmental treaty 
obligations, domestic environmental laws and regulations, and 
government policies and programs?

* Is the government meeting the environmental performance targets it 
has set for itself, and what results has it achieved?

* Is the government controlling environmental risks from its own 

* Has the government put in place an effective accountability framework 
for its environmental programs and policies?

For many SAIs, environmental auditing has become a mainstream activity, 
as important as any other type of audit or area of mandate. And SAI 
efforts in this area are helping governments do a better job. 
Addressing environmental matters falls squarely within the mandate--
some argue the responsibility--of national audit offices for the 
following reasons:

* Governments spend significant public resources on managing 
environmental problems--SAIs need to hold them accountable for prudent 
financial management, reporting, and results.

* Governments have signed numerous international agreements and enacted 
domestic laws and regulations--SAIs need to hold them accountable for 

* Governments, in their financial statements, must account for the 
environmental costs and liabilities created by their landholdings and 
operations--accounting standards require them to adhere to proper 
accounting practices.

* In some cases, the governing legislation for the SAI specifies 
environmental requirements.

Meeting the Challenges: How the WGEA Can Help:

Although environmental auditing is now a popular activity in SAIs, it 
is not without its challenges. INTOSAI members have identified a number 
of real and perceived barriers to undertaking environmental audits, 

* inadequate SAI mandates;

* insufficient established environmental auditing norms and standards;

* lack of skills or expertise within SAIs;

* insufficient data on the state of the environment;

* insufficient national monitoring and reporting systems; and:

* insufficient formulation of governmental environmental policy, such 
as the lack of measurable goals, the absence of strategies, and 
insufficient regulatory frameworks.

In many ways, the INTOSAI WGEA exists to help SAIs overcome these 
barriers. It was formed by INTOSAI in 1992 to meet the burgeoning 
requirement for environmental auditing expertise. The WGEA membership 
has grown from 12 founding members to more than 50, and it is now a 
large and active INTOSAI body.

The Netherlands Court of Audit chaired the WGEA for the first 9 years 
of its existence, and impressive accomplishments were achieved under 
its leadership. Since 2001, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada 
has been the WGEA Chair and Secretariat. In 2001, a 15-member steering 
committee was established to manage the operational and day-to-day 
activities of the WGEA. In addition, six INTOSAI regions have 
established their own regional working groups on environmental 

INTOSAI WGEA Secretariat from the OAG of Canada: Sylvie McDonald, John 
Reed, Liliane Cotnoir, and Johanne Gélinas:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The WGEA aims to encourage SAIs to use their audit mandates and audit 
methods in the field of environmental protection and sustainable 
development. Its mission is to assist both member and nonmember SAIs in 
acquiring a better understanding of the issues involved in 
environmental auditing, to facilitate the exchange of information and 
experience between SAIs, and to publish guidelines and other 
information for their use. The WGEA provides a variety of services and 
products to SAIs, including the following.

Web Site:

The WGEA Web site ( contains 
extensive information for use by members. This includes the mission and 
mandate of the WGEA, contact data for members, downloadable copies of 
all guidance documents produced to date, titles and extracts of 
hundreds of environmental audits, minutes of meetings, and updates on 
events and activities.

Guidance Documents:

The WGEA has developed many papers to help SAIs identify audit issues 
and use their mandates to conduct environmental audits. They are all 
available on the WGEA Web site. For a list of some of these documents, 
see this issue's "Reports in Print" section.

Information Exchange:

The WGEA handles this key aspect of its mission in many ways. As noted 
earlier, considerable information about auditing practices--including 
access to environmental audit reports--is available on its Web site. In 
addition, the WGEA now holds a technical seminar featuring 
presentations by SAIs as part of its regular meetings. The 8th meeting 
of the WGEA held in Warsaw in June 2003 featured sessions on the topics 
of waste, water, and sustainable development. At the 9th meeting, to be 
held in Brasilia in June 2004, seminar sessions will deal with 
biodiversity; meeting new challenges; regularity audits; and joint, 
concurrent, or coordinated audits.


In 2002, the WGEA entered into a unique partnership with the INTOSAI 
Development Initiative (IDI) to develop a training program for 
environmental auditors designed to strengthen SAIs' ability to conduct 
environmental audits. Environmental subject matter experts and 
certified training specialists worked together to produce an intensive, 
2-week training course on environmental auditing that has met with 
enormous success. The first pilot course, the Environmental Auditing 
Workshop, took place in Antalya, Turkey, in 2003 and the second in 
Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2004. Plans are under way to deliver the 
course in other regions. (See the article, "Going Back to School: A New 
Approach to Environmental Audit Training," for more information about 
this course.)

Survey of Members:

Among the tools developed by the WGEA to assist SAIs in conducting 
environmental audits are the INTOSAI member surveys it carries out 
every 3 years. The surveys gather information that marks the progress 
achieved by WGEA members and allows for the evaluation of trends and 
accomplishments. The information also serves to shape the WGEA's work 
plan, strategies, and products. Since its inception, the WGEA has 
undertaken four surveys.

The fourth INTOSAI survey conducted in 2003 covered 2000-2003. It was 
sent to all the SAIs participating in INTOSAI. The results are quite 
revealing: during the survey period, 67 SAIs produced a total of 568 
audit reports concerning environmental issues. Of these, 54 percent 
have personnel dedicated to environmental auditing, and 63 percent 
indicated an interest in auditing aspects of sustainable development. 
Perhaps most impressive was the volume and range of environmental 
audits conducted by SAIs. Table 1 shows the environmental issues that 
SAIs audited and the number of reports issued on those audits from 1994 
through 2003.

Table 1: Environmental Issues Audited by SAIs, 1994-2003:

Environmental issue: Internal environmental management by public 
authorities or departments;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 162;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 81;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 138.

Environmental issue: Freshwater: drinking water, water quality, rivers, 
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 131;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 147;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 132.

Environmental issue: Waste: waste in general, hazardous waste, non-
hazardous waste, waste processing, and landfills;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 103;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 126;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 118.

Environmental issue: Pollution prevention;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 74;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 73;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 83.

Environmental issue: Agriculture, pesticides, land development, and 
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 85;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 85;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 74.

Environmental issue: Nature and recreation (including national parks 
and forests and recreation and tourism);
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 102;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 83;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 73.

Environmental issue: Eco-systems: biodiversity, ecological 
infrastructure, and eco-systems management;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 57;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 57;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 64.

Environmental issue: Environment and human health;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 72;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 110;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 60.

Environmental issue: Traffic, mobility, and transport;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 32;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 61;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 58.

Environmental issue: Air pollution;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 72;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 65;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 45.

Environmental issue: Saltwater: marine pollution;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 25;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 29;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 39.

Environmental issue: Industrial pollution;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 81;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 70;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 36.

Environmental issue: Disaster management and emergency preparedness;
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 33;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 30;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 35.

Total reports issued[A];
Number of reports: 1994-1996: 560;
Number of reports: 1997-1999: 589;
Number of reports: 2000-2003: 568.

Source: WGEA surveys.

[A] Columns do not total because reports may be listed in more than one 

[End of table]

[End of section]

The WGEA: Future Development and Direction:

The WGEA's future certainly looks bright-and busy. Interest in getting 
support from the WGEA seems to be at an all time high. SAIs are seeking 
more guidance on a range of environmental topics, more training and 
technical assistance, and more opportunities for information exchange.

In February 2004, the Steering Committee of the WGEA met in Lima, Peru. 
It reviewed its draft work plan for 2005-2007, which will be discussed 
by the full WGEA at its upcoming meeting in Brasilia.

The WGEA has set a number of ambitious goals:

* to increase the number of parallel, joint, or coordinated 
environmental audits by SAIs;

* to expand SAI training in environmental auditing techniques;

* to increase cooperation and communication between the WGEA and other 
international organizations;

* to expand the breadth of environmental auditing tools available to 

* to strengthen communications and information sharing among SAIs; and:

* to explore the potential for funding sources to support WGEA 

Once the WGEA's work plan is finalized, it will be presented to the 
XVIII INCOSAI in Budapest in October 2004 for formal adoption.

More Help in Meeting the Challenges:

This special edition of the Journal is an invitation to all SAIs to 
learn from others and to upgrade their practices in order to help their 
respective governments improve environmental and sustainable 
development performance and to protect the health and safety of their 
citizens. Klaus Toepfer's guest editorial on the role of SAIs in 
promoting sustainable development underlines the importance of 
INTOSAI's collaborations with other international organizations to 
strengthen governance and accountability in this area.

In an interview, Sheila Frasier, Auditor General of Canada and Chair of 
the WGEA, emphasizes the important and evolving role of SAIs as they 
assist governments in assessing the legislation, policies, and programs 
implemented to address environmental problems. In "Going Back to 
School: A New Approach to Environmental Audit Training," John Reed of 
the WGEA Secretariat has assembled the experiences of both trainers and 
trainees involved in recent IDI-WGEA environmental auditing training.

The SAIs of Norway and the Netherlands offer an overview of two key 
current areas in environmental auditing: waste and water management. 
Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Iran share the challenges of launching an 
environmental auditing initiative. And, finally, South Africa and 
Poland present their experiences in dealing with, respectively, 
regulatory and coordinated audits in the environmental area. "Reports 
in Print" lists current WGEA publications on environmental auditing and 
other useful sources of information.

Environmental auditing is here to stay. We believe that the work of 
auditors can help reverse disturbing global trends by improving the way 
governments address environmental problems. With this special issue of 
the Journal, INTOSAI's WGEA hopes to stimulate the ongoing dialogue on 
environmental auditing within the organization and provide practical 
insights that SAIs can use to carry out this important responsibility.

Meeting the Challenge of Environmental Auditing in the 21st Century: An 
Interview with Sheila Fraser:

Editor's note: For this special edition of the Journal, we are taking a 
break from our regular format. In place of our regular audit profile of 
an SAI, we offer the following interview with Sheila Fraser, Auditor 
General of Canada and chair of INTOSAI's Working Group on Environmental 
Auditing (WGEA). Ms. Fraser shares with the Journal her thoughts on 
environmental auditing in general and on the work of the WGEA in 

Journal: Why is environmental auditing so important to you?

Fraser: Environmental auditing is important to me quite simply because 
it has a direct bearing on the world in which I live and raise my 
family, as well as on my work as a professional. The environment fits 
in squarely with the priorities I want to focus on during my term as 
Auditor General.

Journal: What does the growth of environmental auditing mean to the 
auditing profession?

Fraser: The auditing profession has always had to adapt to new 
developments and trends, and it has a history of developing new 
approaches and expertise to deal with new auditing requirements.

Environmental auditing is a good example of how auditors have been 
called upon to take on a new responsibility as a result of increased 
public concern and, consequently, a reordering of priorities by both 
the public and private sectors. And these priorities have changed a lot 
where the environment is concerned.

When I started out in the profession nearly 30 years ago, environmental 
auditing didn't even exist. Public awareness of environmental problems 
has grown steadily over the last several decades, and governments at 
all levels are facing increasing pressure to find remedies. Many 
national governments now have legislation and regulations that require 
governments to reduce pollution, protect ecosystems, or foster 
sustainable development.

As a result, governments face a mounting demand both at home and abroad 
for better governance and more accountability in relation to 
environmental policies and programs. With this increased awareness has 
come a growing demand for environmental auditing services and 
expertise. So, for auditors, the need is there and the expectations are 

Journal: How does Canada's SAI approach environmental auditing?

Fraser: The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) started doing 
environmental audits in the early 1990s and dealt with environmental 
issues and programs through the traditional performance and compliance 
audit approach. During this initial period, our performance audits 
focused on economy, efficiency, and effectiveness--what we called the 
"three Es." In 1995, modifications made to our legislation added a 
fourth "E," for the environment, to this list.

Our environmental mandate was sharpened and expanded as a result. 
Federal departments were required by law to prepare sustainable 
development strategies, and the OAG was mandated to review and report 
on their implementation. Most notable perhaps was the creation of a 
specialized audit unit within my office led by a Commissioner for the 
Environment and Sustainable Development.

Journal: Your SAI is probably unique in having its own Commissioner of 
the Environment and Sustainable Development. How does the Commissioner 
contribute to the OAG's overall mandate?

Fraser: Our Commissioner, Johanne Gélinas, leads a team of about 40 

Along with her team, she audits environmental issues and monitors how 
well the federal government is meeting its commitments relating to the 
environment and sustainable development.

The Commissioner audits the federal government's sustainable 
development strategies and supports environmental auditing efforts 
throughout the OAG. By the way, our office has also developed its own 
strategy that covers the next 3 years. We are not under any obligation 
to do so, but we feel that it is important for the SAI to give an 
example and exercise leadership in this area.

Both the Commissioner and I report directly to Parliament. We are 
independent of the government, and we are neutral on all issues of 
government policy and objectives in our analysis and recommendations. 
Since we are both part of an audit office, we conduct our work in 
accordance with recognized auditing standards.

Journal: How does the WGEA help?

Fraser: We live in a highly interdependent and interconnected world. 
Our environmental problems stretch right across the planet and cannot 
be dealt with by individual efforts alone. The environmental stakes are 
already very high, and as our population and consumption levels 
increase, they are only getting higher. Just look at the number of 
international treaties, particularly with respect to the environment: 
they have mushroomed over the past decade.

I think that the role of the WGEA is very important in light of the 
growing need for specialized environmental auditing skills. The 
objective of the working group is to develop linkages and relationships 
through which SAIs can share information and expertise on environmental 
auditing. The ultimate aim, of course, is to enhance the capacity of 
SAIs to undertake environmental audits on their own. This is an 
objective to which my office is deeply committed.

Journal: Where does the WGEA go from here? How do you view its 
development in the longer term, and what do you think are the prospects 
for environmental auditing in general?

Fraser: Let me answer the last part of your question first. I don't 
have a crystal ball, but I think it is safe to say that environmental 
auditing will remain an essential auditing activity at both the 
national and international levels.

As for the WGEA, our immediate to midterm goals are pretty well defined 
in our draft work plan for 2005-2007, which will be formally submitted 
for discussion and approval at our upcoming meeting this June in 
Brasilia. We intend to pursue some of the same objectives and themes as 
in the past, notably with respect to water and waste management, but we 
will also develop newer issues as well, such as biodiversity.

Training is another important way the working group builds 
environmental auditing capacity, and this is another activity we will 
be pursuing. Over the last 2 years, we have embarked on a partnership 
with the INTOSAI Development Initiative in regard to training, and we 
intend to deepen and expand this collaboration in the years to come.

The WGEA will also build on its recent experience and continue to 
develop collaborative links with international organizations and 
institutions like the United Nations Environmental Programme and the 
World Bank. And, of course, we will further strengthen our 
relationships within the international community of environmental 
auditors. One way of doing so is to expand our efforts in the area of 
concurrent, joint, and coordinated audits. Much of this still lies in 
the future, but I am confident that the WGEA will succeed in forging 
new links between organizations.

The WGEA will evolve naturally as the needs and demands of its 
membership change.

But I have no doubt that it will remain the dynamic organization it has 
been from its inception and that the SAIs and individuals who make up 
its membership will continue to display the same degree of energetic 
professionalism and commitment that they have in the past.

If you would like more information about the Office of the Auditor 
General of Canada and its activities, please see the "News in Brief " 
item that appeared in the Journal's October 2003 issue, which profiled 
the OAG on the occasion of its 125th anniversary.

You can also visit the OAG's website:

[End of interview]

Current Trends in Environmental Auditing: Waste and Water Management:

Audits of Freshwater Issues:

[See PDF for image]

Source: Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, South Africa.

[End of figure]

By Marlies Alberts, the Netherlands Court of Audit:

Editor's note: In response to a request from the INTOSAI Working Group 
on Environmental Auditing (WGEA), the SAIs of Norway and the 
Netherlands summarized current environmental auditing trends in two key 
areas: freshwater issues and waste management. The following two 
articles highlight recent SAI reports in these areas.

In 2001, the WGEA decided to summarize SAIs' collective experiences in 
audits of freshwater issues, the working group's first central 
environmental theme. SAIs had conducted more than 350 audits on this 
topic from 1996 through 2001. The Netherlands Court of Audit reviewed a 
large number of these audit reports and produced the paper Auditing 
Water Issues-Experiences of Supreme Audit Institutions. Many other SAIs 
also contributed to this report, which was adopted by the WGEA in June 

The Court's review of water audit reports revealed that SAIs had chosen 
a wide variety of topics and approaches in their work. These included 
the water quality of rivers and lakes, flood prevention and recovery, 
the protection of wetlands, the treatment of wastewater and sewage, the 
supply of drinking water, leakages related to unaccounted for water, 
the prevention of marine pollution, and the costs of water-related 
infrastructure work. Within these varied topics, one problem was a 
recurring theme: the basic information required for key management and 
policy decision making on environmental issues often proves to be 

The many water-related treaties between nations reflect the fact that 
the subject of water is in itself very international. This, in turn, 
influences SAIs' approach to the topic and their audit work. It struck 
us that more and more water audits are cooperative efforts. Auditing 
water issues cooperatively seems to be something we do not because it 
is new and exciting, but because it has become a matter of common sense 
and adds value to the audits. The fact that the WGEA chose water as its 
central theme was fortunate in more than one way. It not only reflected 
the obvious importance of water as an environmental subject, but it 
also encouraged SAIs to work together more.

For a copy of the complete report on auditing water issues, see the 
WGEA Web site (

Audits of Waste Management:

By Knut Aarhus and Alfred Martinovits, Office of the Auditor General of 

[See PDF for image]

Source: Bente S. Meen, OAG Norway.

[End of figure]

The United Nations Environmental Programme has rated contamination 
caused by waste as an important global environmental issue. If waste is 
not handled in a satisfactory manner, it poses a great danger to the 
environment and to the health and well-being of humans and animals. At 
the 1992 Rio World Summit on Sustainable Development, waste was made a 
priority of Agenda 21. The Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable 
Development in 2002 focused on initiatives to accelerate the shift to 
sustainable consumption and production and the reduction of resource 
degradation, pollution, and waste.

SAIs have already recognized that they have a role to play in helping 
to improve the quality of waste management, which will, in turn, 
improve the environment at both the national and international levels. 
From 1997 through 1999, INTOSAI members produced more than 100 audit 
reports on waste. In 2000, as many as 20 percent of SAIs reported that 
they were planning audits on waste in the next 3 years.

The INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing aims to stimulate 
the use of audit mandates and audit instruments in the field of 
environmental protection policies. At its eighth meeting, the working 
group adopted a paper (see box) promoting the audit of waste management 
by giving examples of different types of audits that demonstrate good 
auditing practices. Based on this paper, the working group recommended 
that SAIs consider auditing waste management and the systems used to 
regulate and control it.

In December 2003, members of the EUROSAI Working Group on Environmental 
Auditing met in The Hague for a seminar on waste auditing. At that 
time, a number of recent audits in this area were presented (see http:/

These included an audit on medical waste carried out in 2002 by the SAI 
of China that found that waste collection and disposal as well as the 
control system were inadequate. Another was the Austrian SAI audit 
regarding the Basel Convention on transboundary movements of hazardous 
wastes that considered the notification system, goal achievement, and 
control mechanisms. Another recent audit was on protecting the public 
from waste. In it, the United Kingdom's National Audit Office looked 
into regulating the management and disposal of mainstream waste; health 
impacts and pollution incidents; and licensing, inspection, and 
enforcement processes. In 1999, the SAI of Chile audited the management 
of waste from households, industries, and hospitals. The audit revealed 
that 72 percent of the landfills did not have the required 
authorization and 41 percent did not have registers showing the kind of 
waste they had received.

The SAI of Sweden is currently auditing waste incineration and harmful 
substances in bottom ashes or residues containing hazardous substances. 
It is also auditing the supervision of landfills where the bottom ash 
is disposed of.

All these cases demonstrate the continuing development of environmental 
auditing as well as the broader experience that SAIs are accumulating 
in this field.

Auditing Waste Management:

The paper "Towards Auditing Waste Management," prepared by a team from 
the SAI of Norway, has been adopted by the INTOSAI Working Group on 
Environmental Auditing. It contains chapters on:

* a description of the waste problem,

* the classification and definition of waste,

* the public's responsibility,

* the role of SAIs,

* how to choose the audit focus and start auditing, and:

* examples of completed audits.

The paper proposed a four-step procedure for carrying out the fifth 
step mentioned above, how to choose the audit focus and start auditing:

Step 1: Identify main problem areas and the risks they pose for health 
and environment.

Step 2: Identify the various actors and their responsibilities.

Step 3: Determine the stage in the waste process where the case in 
question is located.

Step 4: Consider audit topics and choose the focus.

This paper is available on the WGEA Web site: w [Hyperlink, http://]

[End of article]

Going Back to School: A New Approach to Environmental Audit Training:

By John Reed, WGEA Secretariat, Office of the Auditor General of 

Antalya, Turkey, November 14, 2003.

It was a remarkable ending to the training course. Seated in a large 
circle facing one another, the 29 course participants from 15 countries 
gazed with amazement at the sight before them. About 300 yards of 
string had been taped to the floor, crisscrossing and connecting one 
participant to another in a seemingly random pattern.

It was the last session of an intensive 2-week pilot course on 
environmental auditing developed and delivered collaboratively by the 
INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) and the INTOSAI Working Group on 
Environmental Auditing (WGEA). For the closing ceremony, the course 
instructors had conceived a deceptively simple but powerful exercise. 
Participants were asked, one by one, to share their reflections on the 
course. After speaking, each participant threw a large ball of string 
across the room to a participant of his or her choosing and the line of 
string between them was then taped to the floor. This process was 
repeated until a web of string covered the floor.

The participants' words were emotional and moving: appreciation for the 
opportunity to learn; confidence to take on environmental audits; 
personal commitment to act back home; fondness for new-found friends; 
blessings for safe trips home; and of course thanks to IDI, the course 
instructors, and the WGEA subject matter experts.

But the effect of the string was dramatic and the symbolism was lost on 
no one. "We're a network!" "We can support each other!" "We know where 
to go for help!" And it was true--the first graduating class of the 
IDI/WGEA training course on environmental auditing had become, and 
still remains, a network of peers.

More than this, the participants gained the environmental knowledge, 
knowledge of the audit methods and techniques, and ultimately the 
confidence needed to undertake environmental audits.

The Antalya pilot course, generously hosted by the Turkish Court of 
Accounts, marked the end of a long journey that began nearly 2 years 
earlier. While many SAIs are convinced that auditing environmental 
issues is important, a lack of internal capacity is often identified as 
a major obstacle to getting started. For this reason, both the WGEA and 
some regional INTOSAI training committees identified training in 
environmental auditing as a priority. So, in April 2002, IDI and the 
WGEA formed a new and unique partnership to design and deliver a 
training course on environmental auditing. By combining the IDI 
training methods and specialists (led by Else-Karin Kristensen and 
Kiyoshi Okamoto of IDI in Norway) and the subject matter expertise of 
WGEA members (led by John Reed of the SAI of Canada), two powerful 
forces merged into one! In all, 10 IDI-certified training specialists/
course designers and 15 subject matter experts collaborated to produce 
the course.

[Sidebar quotes: "I have personally benefited from this course very 
much. I now am capable of conducting and supervising environmental 

-Mrityunjoy Saha, participant, SAI of Bangladesh.

"It is time for SAIs to address environmental issues in addition to 
economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. SAIs can provide valuable 
support to the national parliaments in defining program priorities and 
budget decisions."

--Batbayar Badamdorj, participant, SAI of Mongolia.

"As auditors, we now perceive more deeply the importance of 
environmental issues and we also know that SAIs will play an important 
role in protecting the environment for sustainable development."

--Tran Thien Ngon, participant, SAI of Vietnam.

"The most beneficial part of the course was the practical case studies 
and exercises--I found the opportunity to work on some real issues for 
my SAI."

--Hamed Momeni, participant, SAI of Iran.

"We would recommend other SAIs [to] attend this course. The best part 
is action planning for environmental auditing."

--Wang Benqiang, Chen Jixiang, and Gao Yongning, participants, SAI of 

"This was the first IDI-sponsored course I attended and I am definitely 
looking forward to more. The best part of the course was the way it was 
conducted. Learning was fun and we looked forward to the sessions."

--Aman Deep Chatha, participant, SAI of India.

"The benefits have been immeasurable. It was a learning as well as 
social occasion--I now have colleagues from so many countries."

--Abdul Hameed Pasha, participant, SAI of Pakistan.

"A number of participants told me the content was useful to them in 
that they could relate to the environmental problems faced in their own 
countries. Many of them learned new things about environmental and 
performance auditing. As a trainer, I felt quite satisfied."

--Allen Parker, course instructor, SAI of Cook Islands.

"From the IDI perspective, the development of this course has been an 
excellent opportunity to cooperate with an INTOSAI working group using 
a cross-regional approach. The IDI will be working with the WGEA (and 
other working groups and standing committees) to survey SAIs in 
developing countries this year on their need for further training on 
environmental auditing and other subjects."

--Else Karin Kristensen, Acting Director General, IDI).]

The partnership broke new ground in many areas, not the least being the 
process used to design the course--a series of workshops over a 10-
month period plus lots of thinking, reading, writing, and e-mailing in 
between. The first of these workshops focused on defining the course 
curriculum. Facilitated by John Reed of the SAI of Canada, 12 subject 
matter experts gathered in November 2002 to tackle the key question, 
what skills and knowledge do auditors need to undertake environmental 
audits? Their answers became the foundation of the course: compliance 
and performance auditors already have the basic skills required, but 
what they need is knowledge of environmental matters--such as the main 
environmental issues, their root causes, solutions to the problems they 
pose, and the role of governments--to apply to the audit process.

Having defined what subjects needed to be included in the course, the 
design process shifted gears to focus on how to best teach the 
material. But first the IDI training specialists themselves had to go 
to school. In June 2003, the SAI of Canada together with several WGEA 
subject matter experts staged a 10-day "train-the-trainer" seminar to 
teach the specialists about environmental matters. This was followed by 
a marathon 3-week course design workshop in August 2003 during which 
all course materials were researched and written by the design team.

The course itself is packed with environmental content, based in part 
on the many guidance documents prepared by the WGEA. It gives an 
overview of global environmental issues and trends, sustainable 
development, principles of ecosystems, and policy tools governments use 
to deal with environmental problems. It also goes into four priority 
topic areas in depth: waste management, water quality, air pollution, 
and biological diversity. But the course does not just teach theory; 
throughout, the emphasis is on how to apply this knowledge in a 
practical audit sense (there is even a refresher session on the basics 
of performance auditing).

The course does not depend completely on lectures. It is taught by IDI-
certified instructors and is based on IDI's Long Term Regional Training 
Program (LTRTP) and its learner-centered approach. The course is highly 
interactive, using a combination of lectures, individual and group 
exercises, homework assignments, and readings.

At the pilot environmental auditing training course in Turkey in 
November 2003, participants work on an interactive exercise to learn 
ecosystem vocabulary.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

While the learner-centered approach may be more fun--and effective--for 
the students, the course is not easy. Even before a student arrives, 
the head of his or her SAI must commit to undertaking an environmental 
audit in the near future. There is also precourse homework. And by the 
end of the course, each participant must prepare two "deliverables" a 
proposed environmental audit plan on a topic of his or her choosing 
(based on an analysis of environmental issues facing his or her 
country) and an action plan to be used when the participant returns 
home. All of the course materials--the Participant's Notes, the 
Instructor's Guide, the exercises, the handouts, and the slides--are 
available for SAIs by contacting IDI at

In Antalya, the audit plans proposed by participants were impressive, 
and the proposed topics ranged from audits of hospital waste, river 
protection, and prevention of oil spills from ships to the sustainable 
management of forests, mine rehabilitation, and the preservation of 
national parks. The action plans proposed for when students returned 
home were equally impressive--they committed themselves to training 
other auditors in their SAIs, promoting awareness of environmental 
auditing, establishing dedicated environmental auditing units within 
their SAIs, and joining the INTOSAI WGEA. IDI intends to follow up with 
all the SAIs that participated to determine the long-term impact of the 

The second pilot delivery of the course took place in Nairobi, Kenya, 
in February 2004, and, we hope, these two courses are just the 

[End of article]

Getting Started: A Brazilian Perspective on Environmental Auditing:

By Valmir Campelo, President, Brazilian Court of Audit:

In the past, environmental conservation in Brazil was the concern of a 
number of different sectors. However, different parts of the government 
are now addressing this issue from a systematic point of view, rather 
than looking only at the direct environmental impact of public and 
private ventures.

A number of initiatives in environmental auditing have been taken 
worldwide: legislation establishing national environmental management 
systems, government agendas that include actions needed to promote 
sustainable development, and strategic environmental evaluation of 
government policies, plans, and programs. Brazil, for example, has a 
national environmental management system and a Brazilian Agenda 21 plan 
to implement the principles adopted at the 1992 World Summit on 
Sustainable Development. In addition, the Brazilian Congress is 
currently examining a draft bill aimed at making strategic 
environmental evaluation mandatory.

External auditors must follow these trends and work within this 
framework. SAIs should ensure that the actions of public agencies 
responsible for environmental goods and services and environmental 
protection are coordinated. SAIs should also monitor how the strategic 
environmental evaluation tool is being implemented.

The Brazilian Court of Audit (TCU) has made every effort in both of 
these areas. After a detailed audit survey, the TCU established 
priorities for systematically auditing the topics identified. A work 
plan was developed listing the fields in which coordinated 
environmental audits will be carried out, such as forest policy, the 
interface between agriculture and forest policy, water resources, and 

For forest policy, the TCU will investigate whether the actions to 
promote sustainable use of environmental goods and services are 
appropriate. Work has started with the evaluation of conservation 
units, which are centers for disseminating successful experiences. 
Later, the TCU will evaluate the performance of government agencies in 
regulating agriculture in forest areas, as this is an activity that 
causes great environmental impact.

Water resources will also be a priority due to their importance in the 
life of the population and in economic development. Since untreated 
sewage has a major effect on the quality of bodies of water, auditing 
efforts to deal with it will be one of the priorities of our work. It 
is worth noting that in 2002 and 2003, the TCU carried out a 
comprehensive diagnosis of the status of water resources management and 
made several recommendations to the appropriate public managers.

Furthermore, on work related to programs with potential environmental 
impacts, the TCU has included audit questions designed to evaluate how 
the strategic environmental evaluation tool is being used. When these 
audits are concluded, they will provide technical information for the 
Parliament to use when drafting related environmental laws. They will 
also assist the executive branch in implementing these norms.

Results of these efforts to the present confirm the value of this type 
of environmental auditing and indicate a trend to continue its 
implementation. There are certainly challenges to be faced. 
Nevertheless, the joint efforts of SAIs and the INTOSAI Working Group 
on Environmental Auditing are contributing greatly to the search for 
ways to overcome the obstacles.

[End of article]

Getting Started: Beginning an Environmental Auditing Initiative in Sri 

By E.A.G. Ananda, Superintendent of Audit, Auditor General's 
Department, Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, the impact of environmental issues on individual 
communities and the country at large has been identified as a major 
problem, and the Sri Lankan government has established a legal 
framework to address this challenge. The Constitution of the Democratic 
Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka states, "The State shall protect, 
preserve and improve the environment for the benefit of the community" 
(Article 27 (14) of chapter VI, 1978).

This constitutional provision reflects the government's concern about 
protecting and preserving the environment. To this end, Parliament 
enacted the National Environmental Act of 1980 to provide for the 
protection and management of the environment. That act established the 
Central Environmental Authority (CEA). In addition, Sri Lanka 
established a new Cabinet-level ministry to regulate environmental 
activities of the state. Under the act, the powers of the CEA can be 
delegated to local authorities.

The Auditor General's Department was established over 204 years ago and 
is one of the oldest departments in Sri Lanka. The Auditor General, the 
head of the department, is appointed by the President. Pursuant to 
provisions in Article 154 of the Constitution, the Auditor General 
audits the accounts of all departments and ministries of the 
government, local authorities, and public corporations.

This provision gives the Auditor General the authority to audit the 
activities of the ministry in charge of the environment and the CEA. In 
view of the technical nature of the CEA's activities, the Auditor 
General can obtain the assistance of experts in the environmental 
field. Thus, the scope of the audit conducted by the Auditor General is 
not confined to financial audit. In fact, the scope of audit in Sri 
Lanka covers operational aspects of public sector institutions, 
including value-for-money audits on a modest scale. The Auditor General 
reports the results of audits to the audited institutions and to 

The Auditor General's Department is in the initial stages of 
introducing environmental auditing. To date, two pilot audits on waste 
management in two municipal councils--Colombo and Dehiwala Mount 
Lavinia--have been carried out with the department's current limited 
experience in this field.

Key Challenges and Problems:

We have identified the following challenges in the early stages of our 
environmental auditing process:

* the lack of specialized audit staff to carry out environmental 

* the lack of adequate funds to engage specialized staff in the 
environmental field, and:

* the lack of clearly defined environmental responsibilities for the 
central government and provincial agencies.

These challenges were encountered in the pilot audits. The audits were 
carried out by SAI staff without the requisite skills, posing problems 
such as the inability to differentiate hazardous and nonhazardous waste 
or to identify the negative impact of storage and transport problems. 
The team did not have the expertise to test the environmental impact on 
ground water and the air as well as hazardous and noxious odors 
emanating from the dumping area. In addition, because of the 
aforementioned limitations, a complete audit plan and audit program for 
solid waste management had not been prepared.

Because the main obstacle the SAI has encountered in environmental 
auditing is the lack of competent staff, the need for a training 
program in this field is imperative.

Capacity Building in Environmental Auditing:

The Auditor General's Department acquired valuable knowledge and 
materials on environmental auditing at the INTOSAI seminar held in 
Warsaw, Poland, in June 2003. With this initial information, the 
department started to gradually introduce environmental auditing 
aspects into its programs. A team of senior officers trained in 
performance auditing carried out the preliminary exercise in 
environment audit.

Subsequently, another Superintendent of Audit and I had the opportunity 
to participate in the INTOSAI environmental auditing workshop held in 
Antalya, Turkey, in November 2003. (See "Going Back to School: A New 
Approach to Environmental Audit Training" in this issue for more 
information about the workshop.) Proposals for auditing waste 
management were drawn up at the workshop and further developed for 
implementation in Sri Lanka. The training from the workshop is being 
transferred to department staff. The workshop's materials on 
environmental auditing were translated into Sinhala, the official 
language of Sri Lanka, and have been distributed among the staff. They 
are of great value as an introduction to environmental auditing. They 
have proven very useful in teaching the staff of the Sri Lanka SAI to 
conduct environmental audits. I would like to express our SAI's 
appreciation for this valuable study material and the other information 
made available at the workshop.

A new audit act is being prepared in Sri Lanka. It will give more 
independence to the Auditor General in financial and administrative 
matters and provide for environmental auditing. It will also provide an 
avenue for obtaining adequate resources, including expert staff with 
the required skills and knowledge in the field. We also trust that the 
cooperation and assistance of the Working Group on Environmental 
Auditing will continue as we begin our endeavors in this field.

Getting Started: Iran's Environmental Auditing Mandate:

By Hamed Momeni, Chief Auditor, Environmental Issues.

The Supreme Court of Audit of Iran, like many SAIs, faces the challenge 
of working within a restricted mandate when performing environmental 
audits. What paved the way for us to begin these audits was the belief, 
expressed in earlier WGEA publications, that environmental auditing is 
not that different from the other types of audits that SAIs perform. So 
we started environmental auditing in a regularity context and operated 
under the assumption that we did not need a new mandate.

As an audit court, we generally look for irregularities and violations 
of laws and regulations in the activities of governmental entities. 
Therefore, we began our environmental audits by searching for laws and 
regulations related to these issues. We found that under a law approved 
by Parliament, all our state-owned companies are required to spend 1/
1000th of their annual budget to improve the environment. Over the past 
3 years, we audited more than 100 companies and found both weak and 
strong practices in their efforts to use these funds for environmental 

We became a member of the WGEA in 1999, and our involvement convinced 
us that there was much to be gained by a greater emphasis on 
performance audits of environmental activities. Our attendance at WGEA 
meetings in Canada and Poland gave us valuable opportunities to 
exchange information and experiences and to share ideas with others 
involved in a wide variety of environmental audits. The meeting in 
Poland, for example, included workshops and presentations of over 20 
audits and case studies by SAIs in the areas of water management, 
waste, and sustainable development.

The value of the information obtained from our WGEA involvement to date 
became clear when our Auditor General asked us to expand a recent 
report to provide a greater focus on environmental issues. Our Auditor 
General has a deep interest in environmental issues and has expressed 
concern over the problems caused by nonsustainable patterns of 
development. He therefore asked me to prepare a work plan to reflect 
this additional dimension of our work. Since one of WGEA's main themes 
has been freshwater, and many other SAIs have had experiences with 
water-related audits, I focused my plan on this issue. I selected two 
staff members for the audit team and began by giving them a short 
course on performance auditing.

Our effort certainly faces significant challenges. Our legal mandate is 
restrictive in terms of how far we can go in auditing environmental 
performance, and we have little experience to date in performance 
auditing. Nonetheless, our participation in the WGEA showed us that 
other SAIs have been able to audit environmental issues with a 
restricted mandate. Also, the resources available through the WGEA have 
expanded our knowledge of environmental issues and improved our 
capability to examine these issues in new ways.

If there is one lesson our experience has taught us, it is that SAIs 
interested in undertaking environmental auditing should join the 
international community of environmental auditors. In doing so, they 
will see whether they are on the right track and will come to 
understand what they need to do to improve. In fact, the community of 
environmental auditors--through the papers it prepares, the meetings it 
holds to discuss new ideas, and the training workshops it conducts--
will help SAIs in their efforts and push them to improve their 

Regularity Auditing and the Environment: The South African Experience:

By Louis Heunis, Office of the Auditor-General, South Africa.

Traditionally, generally accepted accounting principles have not made 
broad environmental disclosures mandatory in an entity's financial 
statements. In the conventional model of financial accounting and 
reporting, the emphasis is on financial performance.

However, environmental management and strategy experts have been 
talking about the need for more holistic reporting on the performance 
of companies and organizations.

The term "triple bottom line," or sustainability reporting, has been 
adopted to describe reporting that encompasses financial, 
environmental, and social matters. The integration of these three 
facets has grown out of the focus on sustainable development.

While these trends and influences may be considered interesting, the 
question arises, what relevance do they have to regularity audits? 
Understanding the financial implications of environmental matters is 
fundamental to integrating environmental and business issues. Arguably, 
it is important that regularity auditors keep abreast of developments 
and issues in this field to ensure that environmental issues are 
adequately and appropriately addressed during the audit.

In the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) of South Africa, we have 
developed audit procedures at the planning stage to help auditors 
understand these issues and identify international environmental 
liabilities. More often than not, a regularity auditor will need to 
draw on the skills and knowledge of an environmental specialist to 
develop a basic understanding of environmental terms and issues. At the 
same time, it is important for environmental specialists to have a 
working knowledge of the financial audit process. Hence, there is a 
strong case for these two professions to work together and to develop 
an understanding of each other's disciplines. A framework for 
implementing this teamwork is based on integrating environmental audit 
procedures with the financial audit process, taking into account 
accepted environmental audit practices, such as those detailed in the 
International Standard for Environmental Management Systems.

The OAG's Research and Development Unit researches environmental 
auditing issues and maintains a technical support hotline for 
regularity auditors to assist with the consideration of environmental 
matters in financial statements. One function of the Research and 
Development Unit is to report on specific issues, initially assessing 
current risk areas and providing a comprehensive review of the 
environmental situation.

For example, the Research and Development Unit assists the Department 
of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in identifying risks of 
noncompliance in light of the relevant legislation.

At the 16th INCOSAI in Montevideo, the OAG was nominated to serve as 
the "trekker" (or initiator) for developing environmental auditing in 
English-speaking Africa. In this capacity, the OAG has hosted and 
chaired the inaugural meeting of the Working Group on Environmental 
Auditing in Africa.

Regularity Auditing and the Environment: A Sample of Reporting:

The following excerpt from the General Report of the Auditor-General of 
South Africa on outcomes for the financial year ending March 31, 2003, 
gives a sample of the environmental work currently being done within a 
regularity audit context.

Other health sector information-audit of medical waste:

Audits of medical waste revealed. . .shortcomings in the management and 
handling of medical waste at three selected provincial hospitals in the 
Free State and the Eastern Cape Provinces. . . .An overview of the 
significant findings at the three selected hospitals highlighted that 
there were no records that could be submitted for audit purposes with 
regard to the handling and disposal of medical waste, as well as for 
the record keeping and disposal of expired medicine. This indicates not 
only a lack of a proper audit trail, but also a lack of adequate and/or 
sufficient internal controls, thus making it impossible to establish 
the nature and extent of expired pharmaceutical stock and the movement 
of medical waste from the point of origin until the final disposal 
stages. It could therefore not be established whether the medical waste 
had been disposed of at a suitable, permitted facility. These 
shortcomings were aggravated by the finding that medical waste was 
mixed with other household (municipal) waste and that the access to 
medical waste was not always restricted. Furthermore, it was also found 
that in those instances where the hospital was responsible for 
incinerating its own waste, the permit/certificate to operate this 
incinerator, as required by section 9 of the Atmospheric Pollution 
Prevention Act, 1965 (Act No. 45 of 1965), could not be shown to the 
auditors. It could therefore not be verified whether the hospitals did 
comply with all set standards.

With no proper management system in place and a general lack of 
capacity in the management of medical waste in the establishment of the 
hospitals, compounded by limited financial and personnel resources, the 
enforcement of current legislation, regulations and procedures is, at 
best, reactive and not proactive.

Environmental auditing and reporting is still in its infancy in South 
Africa, and our approach is, therefore, focused on increased awareness, 
development, and training with a regional perspective. The OAG faces 
many challenges, including the following:

* creating capacity and enthusiasm within other units of the OAG to 
assist the Research and Development Unit with a systematic approach to 
implement concepts related to corporate governance and sustainable 
development into the normal audit process and getting auditors to buy 
into these new developments and:

* influencing key government players to establish a framework for 
reporting on economic, environmental, and social performance without 
harming the OAG's independent status.

These challenges reflect the dilemma in which the OAG is currently 

Momentum cannot be gained before regularity auditors and the government 
are in a position in which it is possible to report accurately on 
nonfinancial activities and sustainability issues.

Working Together to Tackle Regional Problems: When Two SAIs (or More) 
Are Better Than One:

By Malgorzata Romanowicz, Supreme Chamber of Control of Poland.

Poland's Supreme Chamber of Control (SCC) has been dealing with 
environmental auditing problems for over 35 years. Initially, the SCC 
limited itself to studying specific problems, such as compliance with 
requirements related to the water supply or the implementation of 
government policies on environmental issues. As the ecological 
awareness of the community grew and more extensive legal regulations in 
the field of environmental protection came into existence, the SCC 
adjusted its audit programs to new public and legal requirements and 
international obligations. In accordance with legal regulations, the 
SCC audits central and local government implementation of environmental 
protection commitments. SCC studies have included the effectiveness of 
environmental fees and penalties for exceeding permissible pollution 
levels, state policy development in the area of environmental 
protection and its implementation, and the efficient use of financial 

In recognition of Poland's experience in environmental auditing, the 
SCC was appointed in 1999 to be the coordinator of the EUROSAI Working 
Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA), which was established by 
resolution of the 4th EUROSAI Congress held in Paris in May 1999. The 
SCC's basic responsibilities include taking the initiative to involve 
new European SAIs in international or regional environmental audits; 
disseminating standards, methods, and techniques for environmental 
auditing by organizing workshops, seminars, and training courses; and 
promoting the actions of the working group via the Internet. At 
present, the EUROSAI WGEA comprises 33 European countries and is 
considered the most active of all the INTOSAI regional working groups 
in this area.

In addition to bilateral cooperation with Central and Eastern European 
countries, the SCC has in recent years carried out joint parallel 
audits, including some with neighboring countries. According to the 
INTOSAI WGEA booklet on how SAIs can cooperate in the audit of 
international environmental accords, a joint parallel audit is 
conducted by a team of auditors from two or more SAIs who prepare a 
single, joint audit report for publication in all participating 

The Puszcza Bialowieska forest, located in both Belarus and Poland, was 
the subject of a joint parallel audit of environmental protection 
regulations by the SAIs of both countries:

[See PDF for image]

Source: Mariusz Brudek.

[End of figure]

The SCC's history of joint parallel audits dates back to the last 

* In 1995, the SCC and the SAI of Belarus studied protection of the 
Puszcza Bialowieska primeval forest, a dense, undisturbed woodland 
complex that is located in both countries. The audit findings pointed 
out irregularities in both countries' existing regulations to protect 
the forest and the need for close cooperation between the two forest 

* In 1996, the SCC conducted two parallel audits with the SAIs of the 
Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Belarus on tasks international treaties 
imposed on cooperation regarding border waters. As a result of the 
audits, the plans for cooperation on border waters were approved by all 
parties and implemented to a limited extent.

* Poland, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania conducted an audit of 
atmospheric air protection in 1999, as did Germany in the following 
year. The audit findings pointed out that in order to protect against 
air pollution, it was necessary to consider closer cooperation among 
neighboring countries and unification of standards for air emission and 
fuel quality.

The widening scope of international cooperation between SAIs in the 
environmental auditing field sometimes results in difficulties because 
of different SAI mandates and inequality in their scope. The general 
rule of international cooperation should be the search for areas in 
which there are common authorities, not differences.

Poland's SCC coordinated the Helsinki Convention audit that was carried 
out in 2001 by the SAIs of the countries wete convention signatories: 
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Russian 
Federation, and Sweden. The objective of the audit was to assess the 
implementation of Helsinki Convention provisions related to the 
protection of the Baltic Sea against pollution originating on land. The 
cooperating parties conducted the audits according to their authorities 
and developed the Common Position on Cooperation and Program 
Assumptions of the Audit Program as the basis for their cooperation. 
Each SAI was responsible for its own audit and for the way its results 
were presented in the general section of the report. The summaries of 
national reports served as a basis for preparing a joint final report.

The SCC coordinated the audit reviewing protection of the Baltic Sea 
from pollution originating on land.

[See PDF for image]

Source: Malgorzata Romanowicz, SCC.

[End of section]

Studying the implementation of the provisions in conventions and 
international agreements is a very important tool in conducting 
international audits. It allows SAIs to examine the same issue in one 
environmental area in accordance with their authorities and abilities 
and, in the case of joint coordinated audits, at the same time. The 
Common Position on Cooperation and the Assumptions of the Audit Program 
enables SAIs to adjust audit objectives to their mandates and to 
compare audit findings in joint audit reports.

The activities of the EUROSAI WGEA routinely include carrying out 
international or regional environmental audits focused primarily on the 
fulfillment and efficiency of environmental treaty commitments. This 
work is exemplified by the second Helsinki Convention audit, which the 
National Audit Office of Denmark has coordinated and eight Baltic 
States have expressed their willingness to participate in. The audit 
subjects include issues related to pollution caused by ships. Auditing 
the implementation of conventions and the provisions of international 
agreements reflects a shared interest in preventing pollution and 
protecting the environment and may also lead to the establishment of 
new environmental legislation or the improvement of existing laws.

Taking the initiative to conduct international audits allows SAIs to 
accomplish intended audit aims and offers opportunities for 
benchmarking. The SCC's experience clearly shows that international 
audits offer the only way to obtain comprehensive data on issues 
related to environmental auditing and broader knowledge about 
activities performed by SAIs in this area. The SCC has shared the 
experience gained from environmental audits with other SAIs in order to 
explore the possibilities for joint initiatives in environmental 
auditing. The SCC has learned that international audits help to develop 
competencies and ways that SAIs can share methodologies and audit 
approaches. They also provide incentives for SAIs to carry out audits 
of international accords and to work closely with other SAIs.

The SCC's vision is to promote the highest standards in environmental 
auditing, the proper conduct of environmental issues, and beneficial 
change in the provision of national public services related to this 
area. Such cooperation builds a cooperative spirit among SAIs, 
integrity, open communication, and professional excellence.

[End of article]

Reports in Print:

The Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) has produced various 
studies and guidelines related to environmental auditing. In the 
interest of sharing knowledge and best practices among INTOSAI members 
and regional working groups, here is a list of documents available on 
the WGEA Web site (
wgea.nsf/viewStudies). The WGEA studies and guidelines can also be 
accessed through the INTOSAI Web site (

WGEA Studies and Guidelines on Environmental Auditing:

* Towards Auditing Waste Management: An overview of waste management 
issues that provides SAIs with the information they need to conduct 
audits in this area.

* Water Issues, Policies, and the Role of Supreme Audit nstitutions: A 
summary of the collective experience of SAIs around the world, drawing 
on the lessons learned from more than 350 audits, with practical tips 
for SAIs.

* Environmental Audit & Regularity Auditing: An explanation of the 
possibilities for conducting audits with an environmental focus using a 
financial and compliance framework.

* Sustainable Development: The Role of Supreme Audit Institutions An 
explanation of the role SAIs play in auditing how well governments have 
developed frameworks and national strategies for pursuing sustainable 
development objectives and the steps SAIs may need to take to develop 
their ability to undertake audits in the field of sustainable 

* Guidance on Conducting Audits of Activities with an Environmental 
Perspective: A guide to provide SAIs with a basis for understanding the 
nature of environmental auditing and a starting point for creating 
their own approaches to the satisfactory discharge of environmental 
auditing responsibilities within the context of their jurisdictions and 

* The Audit of International Environmental Accords: An overview to 
stimulate SAIs' thinking about auditing international environmental 
accords and provide some stepping-stones, including a "line of 
reasoning" with criteria that can be helpful in selecting an 
environmental accord to audit, a description of important international 
environmental accords, and examples of audits that SAIs have carried 

* SAIs Reports Related to International Environmental Accords: A list 
of regularity and performance audits conducted by SAIs around the world 
through the year 2000.

* How SAIs May Co-operate on the Audit of International Environmental 
Accords: An outline of approaches for carrying out audits of 
international environmental accords and cooperating with other SAIs.

* Study on Natural Resource Accounting: An overview of natural resource 
accounting and possibilities for SAIs to play a role in this field. It 
includes a discussion of problems in the practice of natural resource 
accounting; the current practices of international and national 
organizations in the field; and a chapter on the accounting of 
freshwater, the central theme of the WGEA.

Environmental Audits Worldwide:

The WGEA's Web site also contains titles of reports on environmental 
auditing provided by SAIs, some of which will also be available shortly 
in PDF format. (See
wgea.nsf/viewAuditsIssue1.) Audits can be researched by environmental 
area or country.

The INTOSAI Regional Working Groups on Environmental Auditing:

The regional working groups on environmental auditing are a good source 
of information at the regional level. Their contact information is 

ACAG/SPASAI Regional Working Group on Environmental Auditing:
Mr. Gareth Ellis:
Office of the Controller and Auditor-General:
Level 5, Hitachi House:
48 Mulgrave Street:
Private Box 3928:
Wellington, New Zealand:
Telephone: ++0064 4 917 1521:
Fax: ++0064 4 917 1549:
Web site: ttp://

AFROSAI-E (English-speaking African countries) Technical Workgroup on 
Environmental Auditing:
Mr. Wessel Pretorius:
Executive Manager:
Office of the Auditor General:
271 Veale Street:
New Muckleneuk:
Pretoria 0075 (street address):
P.O. Box 446:
Pretoria 0001 (postal address),
Republic of South Africa:
Telephone: ++27 (12) 426-8413:
Fax: ++27 (12) 426-8225:

ARABOSAI Regional Sub-Committee for Environmental Auditing:
Mr. Mohammed Gawdat Ahmet El-Malt:
Central Auditing Organization:
P.O. Box 11789:
Madinet Nassr,
Cairo, Egypt:
Telephone: ++20 (2) 401 39 56; 401 39 5:
Fax: ++20 (2) 401 70 86; 261 58 13:

ASOSAI Regional Working Group on Environmental Auditing:
Mr. Luo Meifu:
Director General (International Affairs):
National Audit Office of the People's Republic of China (CNAO):
1 Beiluyuan Zhanlan Road:
Xicheng District:
Beijing 100830, People's Republic of China:
Telephone: ++86 (10) 68 30 14 06; 07; 08; 10:
Fax: ++86 (10) 68 33 09 58:
Web site:

EUROSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing:
Mr. Zbigniew Wesolowski:
Vice President:
Supreme Chamber of Control:
Filtrowa 57:
00 - 950 Warsaw, Poland:
Telephone: ++(48 22) 825 35 00:
Fax: ++ (48 22) 825 8967:
Web site:

OLACEFS Environmental Special Technical Committee:
Mr. Sergio Freitas de Almeida:
International Relations Officer:
Brazilian Court of Audit:
Tribunal de Contas da Uniăo:
Setor de Administraçăo Federal Sul:
Quadra 04 - Lote 01:
Brasilia, D.F., Brazil:
Telephone: ++55 (61) 316-7443; 7626:
Fax: ++55 (61) 316-7522:

Other Sources of Information:

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): [Hyperlink,]

UNEP Global Environmental Outlook: [Hyperlink,

United Nations Division for Sustainable Development: [Hyperlink,]

World Bank-Environment: [Hyperlink,

[End of Reports in Print]

INSIDE INTOSAI: Meeting of Reference Panel for Auditing Standards 

Members of the INTOSAI Auditing Standards Committee's (ASC) reference 
panel of audit experts met in Stockholm, Sweden, January 28-30, 2004, 
to discuss upcoming work with the International Federation of 
Accountant's (IFAC) International Auditing and Assurance Standards 
Board (IAASB). Ten audit experts were able to attend the Stockholm 
meeting, which also included two representatives of the IFAC IAASB, the 
project secretariat set up at the Swedish National Audit Office, and 
other Swedish audit staff.

Members of the ASC panel, IFAC representatives, and Swedish SAI staff 
at their January 2004 meeting in Stockholm to discuss their upcoming 
collaboration on international standards of auditing.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

In response to an invitation from the ASC, the heads of 45 SAIs have 
nominated more than 80 of their best auditors to serve on the reference 

As reported in this Journal's January 2003 issue, these experts will 
serve on task forces set up by the IFAC IAASB to revise or develop 
international standards of auditing (ISA). Audit experts have already 
been appointed to serve on task forces relating to documentation, 
modifications to the auditor's report, and communications with those 
charged with governance. For more details on the work of IFAC, see its 
Web site:

During the productive meetings in Stockholm, the group was able to 
agree on working documents on topics such as terms of reference for 
experts participating in ISA task forces and related reporting 
procedures. The discussions also covered cooperation between the 
experts and with IFAC, the project secretariat, and the working group 
set up by the ASC. The proposals from the meeting were discussed and 
approved by the ASC Working Group on Financial Audit Guidelines at its 
meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon, March 30-31, 2004.

For additional information, contact: Project Secretariat, e-mail:

ARABOSAI Governing Board and Training Committee Meet in Yemen:

The Central Organization for Control and Auditing (COCA) of the 
Republic of Yemen hosted the 31st meeting of the ARABOSAI Training 
Committee and the 32nd meeting of ARABOSAI Governing Board in Sana'a, 
the capital of Yemen, December 6-10, 2003.

Heads of SAIs and delegations from ARABOSAI member countries attended 
the meetings and discussed a wide range of training and technical 
issues. They reviewed the activities of the Secretariat and Governing 
Board since the last meeting, as well as the future plans of the 
committees and working groups; they also finalized a number of 
decisions and recommendations. In addition, COCA arranged social and 
cultural programs to make the participants' stay more enjoyable and 

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah Al-Sanafi, the President of COCA, and officials 
from other agencies extended a warm welcome to all the delegations and 
wished them a pleasant stay in Yemen.

For additional information, contact: ARABOSAI, e-mail:; Web page:

Internal Control Standards Committee:

The INTOSAI Internal Control Standards Committee met in Brussels, 
Belgium, February 10-11, 2004. Mr. William Dumazy, Senior President of 
the Belgian Court of Audit, chaired the meeting, which was attended by 
representatives of 16 SAIs (out of a total committee membership of 25).

The main topic of discussion at the meeting was updating the guidelines 
for internal control standards in the public sector. This project was 
assigned to the committee in response to a recommendation made at the 
17th INCOSAI, and implementing it has been the main focus of the 
committee's activities during the past 2 years.

The committee reached fundamental agreement on the updated draft 
guidelines prepared by a committee task force. This draft is currently 
being finalized and will be sent to all INTOSAI members for comment 
after a final check by committee members.

The second item on the agenda was the committee program for 2005 
through 2007.

During a brainstorming session, all committee members had the 
opportunity to formulate their proposals. Based on this input, the 
chairman of the committee is drawing up a draft note for the 2005-2007 
program to be submitted to all committee members for comment. An action 
plan for implementing the updated guidelines will be an important topic 
in the note. The delegates agreed that the committee has a general and 
permanent task to provide information and guidance and should therefore 
support the SAIs in implementing the updated guidelines, primarily 
through the transfer of the ideas in the guidelines.

The meeting closed with a celebration of the committee's 20th 
anniversary. The celebration was held in Belgium's House of 
Representatives. The Speaker of the House participated in the 
festivities, and the activities and achievements of the committee were 
commended in speeches marking the occasion.

For additional information contact: Internal Control Standards 
Committee, e-mail:

Working Group on the Audit of International Institutions:

Since the audit of international institutions was one of the two themes 
of the 17th INCOSAI in Seoul in 2001, the Congress established an ad 
hoc working group to address the issue further and report back to the 
18th Congress in Budapest in 2004.

The working group's mandate is to define the principles for the audit 
of international institutions, develop best practice guidance for SAIs, 
and prepare a list of relevant international institutions.

The SAI of Norway was appointed chair of the group, whose members are 
the SAIs of Austria, Denmark, India, Japan, South Korea, Nepal, Saudi 
Arabia, South Africa, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

To date, the working group has held five meetings hosted by different 
participating SAIs. At the first meeting, it prepared a work plan that 
was approved by the Governing Board at its 50th meeting. Since the 
working group has a time-restricted mandate, the work has been 
intensive, with the member SAIs preparing documents and exchanging them 
between the meetings. Each member SAI has also compiled a list of 
international institutions of which its country is a member as input to 
the global list.

Working Group on the Audit of International Institutions' meeting in 
Tokyo in April 2003.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The working group decided to focus its initial work on defining the 
principles that should guide the audit of international institutions. 
After extensive discussions, the group reached consensus and has 
circulated an exposure draft of the proposed text (see box on next 
page) to SAIs for comment. The group will prepare a final proposal, 
which will be considered for adoption by the 18th INCOSAI.

To prepare a list of international institutions, it was first necessary 
to clearly define those institutions; the group agreed on a definition 
early in the process. Subsequently, group members have gathered 
information concerning the institutions that fall within the agreed-
upon definition. They have found that while some information is 
available on the Internet, much information relating to audit is not 
easily available.

Consequently, a basic list will be submitted to the SAIs at the next 

The working group is still finalizing the best practice guidance for 
SAIs. The guidance will cover promoting the principles for best audit 
arrangements, preparing SAIs to take on the audit of international 
institutions, contacting national authorities to be informed of 
upcoming audit opportunities, and giving practical advice on the audit 
itself. The working group's intention is that the guidance be 
sufficiently detailed to assist those SAIs that have little or no 
experience in auditing international institutions. The guidance 
document will be presented to the 18th Congress.

Proposed Principles for the Audit of International Institutions:

To be effective, the audit arrangements for international institutions 
should ensure that:

1. All international institutions financed or supported by public money 
should be subject to audit by SAIs to promote better governance, 
transparency, and accountability.

and that the external auditor:

2. Is fully independent in the conduct of the audit.

3. Has sufficient powers to carry out the audit in a manner that meets 
best practice in the audit of public money.

4. Has adequate resources to carry out the audit.

5. Has the right to report on the audit results to the member states 
concerned through the governing body(ies).

6. Meets relevant professional and ethical standards.

7. Is appointed in an open, fair, and transparent manner.

As chair of the working group, the Norwegian SAI believes that the 
group members have worked very hard and that the final outcome will be 
of high quality. If the proposed principles are implemented in more 
international institutions, transparency and accountability for the 
spending of what are in actuality the public funds of member states 
will increase significantly.

In the past, although important work has been done on this topic and 
decisions and recommendations have been made, there has not been 
systematic follow-up and the impact has been limited. Therefore, it is 
essential that INTOSAI and its members look for a way to implement the 
working group's recommendations regarding both the international 
institutions concerned and the national authorities with budgetary 
accountability for the funds.

At its next meeting, which is being held in April 2004, the working 
group will finalize the papers to be presented at the Congress and 
discuss a proposal on ways to promote the principles it has developed 
and increase the number of international institutions audited by SAIs.

For additional information, visit the working group's temporary home 
page, which is under "International Activities" on the English version 
of the Norwegian SAI's home page ( The 
principles are available in the five working languages of INTOSAI.

[End of Inside INTOSAI]


IDI Update:

IDI Update keeps you informed of developments in the work and programs 
of the INTOSAI Development Initiative. To find out more about IDI and 
to keep up to date between editions of the Journal, visit the IDI Web 

OLACEFS Pilot Public Debt Audit:

As part of IDI's cooperation program with the INTOSAI Public Debt 
Committee and OLACEFS, a pilot audit of public debt was undertaken in 
February 2004. OLACEFS public debt "champions," who had taken part in a 
program of training activities in 2003, were asked by the SAI of 
Venezuela to assist Venezuelan auditors in carrying out the pilot 
audit. The pilot audit lasted for 3 weeks and took place in the debt 
administration office of the Department of the Treasury. The audit's 
main objectives were to prove the methodology used to deliver public 
debt auditing and to improve the quality of the previously delivered 
public debt auditing course. The experiences gained will be used during 
the 2-week regional workshop in public debt auditing in the Dominican 
Republic, April 26-May 7, 2004.

Detecting Fraud and Corruption: An African Perspective:

A meeting was held in South Africa from February 9-13, 2004, to 
complete the design and development of a 5-day workshop on the 
detection of fraud and corruption. A number of trainers from the 
Anglophone Africa region took part in this meeting, as did a subject 
matter expert from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. The 
trainers delivered the workshop again in South Africa, March 22-26, 

EUROSAI Long Term Training Program Phase II Update:

A Program Orientation and Skills Assessment Workshop (POSAW) was held 
in Moscow, Russia, February 23-27, 2004. The principal objective of the 
workshop, which was conducted in both English and Russian, was to 
select candidates from 19 countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and 
Central Asia to take part in the IDI/EUROSAI Phase II Long Term 
Training Program. Through personal interviews, group activities, and 
individual presentations, the instructional team was able to evaluate 
participants' language skills and potential to be good instructors. 
This was the first time that IDI had used this type of workshop, and it 
is expected to have positive outcomes for the quality of participants' 
learning experiences during the remainder of the IDI/EUROSAI Phase II 
Long Term Training Program.

WGEA/IDI Environmental Auditing Project:

The second Environmental Auditing Workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya, 
February 16-27, 2004, for 30 participants primarily from Anglophone 
AFROSAI member SAIs.

The workshop was the result of a cooperative effort between the IDI and 
the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA). Six 
instructors--from the SAIs of the Cook Islands, Hungary, Kenya, Papua 
New Guinea, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe--delivered the workshop with 
the assistance of environmental auditing experts from the SAIs of 
Canada and South Africa.

Participants conduct a mock interview of an environmental auditee at 
the Environmental Auditing Workshop in Kenya.

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

This 10-day workshop, which aims to transfer knowledge of environmental 
issues along with the "how-tos" of environmental auditing, requires 
that participants prepare environmental auditing proposals to be 
submitted to management when they return to their SAIs. A final version 
of the course materials will be made available to participants and 
their SAIs on CD-ROM later in 2004 and will also be added to the IDI 
International Training Directory, available on the IDI Web site.

Contacting IDI:

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this edition 
of IDI Update, please contact IDI by telephone at ++47 22 24 13 49 or 
by e-mail at

[End of IDI Update]

INTOSAI 2004-2005 Events:

April 19-23: 17th UN/INTOSAI Seminar, Vienna, Austria;

April 26-June 4: EUROSAI Phase II Course Design and Development 
Workshop, Sofia, Bulgaria.

May 4: ARABOSAI meeting, Amman, Jordan;

May 24-28: SPASAI, Apia, Japan;

May 30-June 2: Working Group on Environmental Auditing and the 
International Congress of Environmental Auditing, Brasilia, Brazil.

June 21-22: INTOSAI Governing Board (extraordinary meeting), Vienna, 

June 28-30: EUROSAI Working Group Meeting, Bern, Switzerland;

June TBD: Public Debt Committee, Moscow, Russia.

October 10-16: 18TH INCOSAI, Budapest, Hungary.

November 16-18: OLACEFS Assembly, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

January 30-Feb. 2, 2005: 19TH Commonwealth Auditors-General Conference, 
Wellington, New Zealand.

Editor's Note: This calendar is published in support of INTOSAI's 
communications strategy and as a way of helping INTOSAI members plan 
and coordinate schedules. Included in this regular Journal feature will 
be INTOSAI-wide events and region-wide events such as congresses, 
general assemblies, and Board meetings. Because of limited space, the 
many training courses and other professional meetings offered by the 
regions cannot be included. For additional information, contact the 
Secretary General of each regional working group.

[End of INTOSAI 2004-2005 Events]

[End of Volume 32, No. 2]