SAI SIERRA LEONE REINFORCES ACCOUNTABILITY, STRENGTHENS RELATIONS
Sierra Leone’s SAI became an operational independent organization in 2004 and faced internal challenges early on. The lack of a strategic plan and audit manuals, low audit coverage, limited human and financial resources, as well as little to no information technology facilities and infrastructure were just some of the obstacles encountered.
Externally, audited public institutions were without basic systems and documentation, further hampering the SAI’s ability to perform audits. Parliament was not reviewing audit reports. In fact, audit reports were not published nor were audit recommendations even considered. The SAI’s role within the Public Financial Management (PFM) system was weak, particularly given the lack of tools designed to provide oversight regarding the effective utilization of public monies.
Once fully operational, SAI Sierra Leone immediately embarked on implementing comprehensive capacity development programs led by the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID). The goal: strengthen SAI institutional and professional capacity and fulfill its mandate within demanding national limitations. The SAI’s picture drastically began to improve in 2016 in part as a result of activities aligned with Cooperation principles.
Strong SAI Leadership. This has distinguished the organization with country stakeholders and development partners, leading to high levels of SAI ownership when planning capacity development.
Long-term, Scaled-up, Harmonized Support. DFID backed SAI Sierra Leone through organizational, institutional and professional capacity development technical assistance. DFID’s leading role evolved into a facilitative one—supporting SAI-led initiatives in developing guidance and capacity in financial, compliance and performance audits.
Other development partners provided beneficial support, including the African Development Bank; European Commission; and the World Bank, all of which have harmonized efforts in accordance with SAI Sierra Leone’s strategic plans and core programs.
SAI PMF Assessments. SAI Sierra Leone underwent two assessments under the SAI Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) in 2012 and 2016. Results show performance progress in addition to areas for improvement.
SAI CDF. The SAI CDF supported strengthening professional capacity.
International Participation. The SAI has also benefited from active participation in the international arena, capitalizing on INTOSAI global public goods and regional capacity development programs by the AFROSAI-E region and IDI.
Public Financial Management (PFM) Reforms. PFM reforms have promoted timely and regularly published reports by the Auditor General. The “2014-2017 PFM Strategy of Sierra Leone” incorporates SAI observations.
Comparing SAI Sierra Leone’s performance in 2002 to 2016 shows tremendous improvements.
The SAI has implemented sound strategies and policies addressing core audit processes and organizational structures to include strategic planning, professional training and stakeholder management, leading to the delivery of significant results despite limited human and financial resources.
Repeated PEFA assessments indicate the scope, nature and follow-up of external audit has consistently improved since 2007, including a 21% expansion in audit coverage; enhanced quality of financial and compliance audit work; and the establishment of performance audit as an audit area.
Strengthened relations with Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has led to improved parliamentary scrutiny of audit reports; public access to SAI reports; and publicly broadcast PAC hearings.
Budget support development partners extensively use SAI Sierra Leone’s outputs to monitor fiduciary risk and incorporate into dialogue with national government.
Making effective use of scarce resources, identifying improvement opportunities, holding the government accountable and promoting transparency are just a few examples of how SAIs can contribute.
Sierra Leone’s SAI impact includes the office’s prompt audit on the 2015 Ebola Management of Resources. The report on mismanagement and corruption in the use of Ebola aid funds allowed for strong debates among stakeholders and resulted in increased pressure for accountability.
In 2015, the Auditor General was awarded the National Integrity Award by the Anti-Corruption Commission for her distinguished service in protecting national resources and strong stance against corruption.
“We have embraced the sustained support given by our development partners and harmonization development programs with our strategic plans. We hope the intense development assistance can continue until we can make an impact based on our own sustainable capabilities.” —Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce, Sierra Leone Auditor General.