The Australian National Audit Office and the Australian Capital Territory Audit Office host the International Meeting of Performance Audit Critical Thinkers (IMPACT) Conference
The International Meeting of Performance Audit Critical Thinkers (IMPACT) Conference, an initiative of the Australasian Council of Auditors General (ACAG), is intended as a biennial professional conference for performance auditors. The event brings together auditors to discuss emerging issues and best practices in performance audit with industry experts, practitioners and those interested in government accountability.
The 2023 Conference, hosted by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) and ACT Audit Office (ACT AO), was the third since its inception in 2016, and the first since the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 230 attendees from Australia and across the globe gathered for the 2023 conference in Canberra, Australia from 19–20 April 2023.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘The Auditor of the Future’ with two sub themes — ‘technology as a tool’ and ‘technology and the impact on the auditor’. The conference featured two full days of presentations, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.
Mr Grant Hehir, Auditor-General for Australia provides the welcome address to attendees.
Provide assurances to the Parliament
Senator the Honourable, Katy Gallagher, the Australian Minister for Finance, Minister for Women and Minister for the Public Service addressed conference attendees as a keynote speaker. Minister Gallagher highlighted the importance of auditing as a profession and reminded those in attendance of the critical role that auditors play in providing Parliament, and the public which they serve, assurances that public sector entities are providing services and using public money in accordance with the Parliament’s intent.
Technology as a Tool and Technology and the Impact on the Auditor
An emerging theme for the future of auditing is the role of data and artificial intelligence (AI) in public administration. Performance auditors are faced with the challenges of understanding complex data and AI, what it is, and what are the implications for the auditor of the future.
Ms Tina Kim, Deputy Comptroller for State Government Accountability for New York, spoke about the rise of artificial intelligence and the role of the auditor. Ms Kim discussed how auditors will remain a critical component of providing oversight and accountability of public sector performance and how auditors can use technology to their advantage. She emphasised that auditors possess deep knowledge about organisations and are trained in professional scepticism to understand the effects of data and the presentation of information from government.
Ms Xiaoyan Lu, Executive Director, Systems Assurance and Data Analytics, from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) spoke to conference attendees about the increasing use of advanced technologies and data by entities to deliver government programs. Ms Lu provided insights into how the ANAO embeds data analytics and relevant technologies into its performance and financial statements audit practices. Ms Lu also provided a framework for how other audit institutions can create an operational strategy for incorporating data analytics into audit work.
Environmental protection and sustainability is an increasing focus of governments and private sector globally. This has required the performance auditor to adapt to new frameworks and understand sustainability outcomes. The conference featured two break-out sessions on environmental sustainability.
The first session featured a discussion on the role of audit institutions in responding to the global focus on the impacts of environmental and climate change on the lives of citizens, particularly through the lens of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The session included presentations from the Controller and Auditor-General of Samoa, Mr Camilo Afele Fuimaono and Dr Wendy Craik AM FTSE, One Basin Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Chair. Mr Fuimaono presented on the ‘Ambitions of the Samoa Audit Office in Assuring a Sustainable Future for Samoa’ emphasising that auditing of environmental and climate change programs provides the Parliament with valuable information about the effectiveness of these programs and makes an important contribution to ensuring the development and future of Samoa is sustainable. He also discussed the need for strong legislative frameworks to enable independent auditing across the breadth of the audit activities.
Ethical and integrity challenges in government
A panel discussion was held on ethical and integrity challenges in government. Panel members included Mr John Ryan, Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand, Ms Daniele T. Bird, Partner at EY Australia, and Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM, Secretary for Public Sector Reform, Australia. The panel provided insights into the role of the auditor to scrutinise ethics and integrity in the delivery of government programs to ensure auditors are looking beyond technical compliance and toward operating within the intent of established rules and frameworks, alongside community expectations of integrity.
In addition, the conference featured several outstanding presentations from the INTOSAI community as outlined below.
- Dr Agus Joko Pramono, Vice Chairperson, Audit Board of Indonesia gave a keynote address on the challenges of attracting the auditor of the future particularly focusing on the skills audit professionals will need in a rapidly changing digital environment.
- Ms Karen Hogan, Auditor General of Canada, delivered a presentation on audit impact and the relationship with Parliament.
- Mr Shri Girish Chandra Murmu, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, provided conference attendees with an overview of the impact of audit findings in India, including in relation to citizen centric services, public transportation, and disaster management.
Conference attendees were invited to attend a formal dinner at The Marion on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. This provided an opportunity to network, to share knowledge and experiences and to hear from Mr Li Cunxin (see Author & Speaker – Li Cunxin – Mao’s Last Dancer), who shared his inspiring story of courage and determination.
Further, the ACAG Performance Audit Awards were presented at the dinner. These awards recognise outstanding performance audits in three categories: communication, excellence, and innovation.
The winners of the 2023 awards are outlined below:
- Communication: Office of the Auditor General for Western Australia, Public Trustee’s administration of trusts and deceased estates
- Excellence: Queensland Audit Office, Delivering Social Housing Services
- Innovation: Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, Managing Body Worn Cameras,
Dr Agus Joko Pramono, Vice Chairperson, Audit Board of Indonesia gave a keynote address on the challenges of attracting the auditor of the future.
Mr Shri Girish Chandra Murmu, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, presents on the impact of audit findings in India.
Mr Michael Harris, Auditor-General of Australian Capital Territory, shares a closing address.
The next IMPACT Conference will be in 2025 and will be hosted by the Office of the Auditor General, Western Australia.
For more information about IMPACT 2023, including the conference presentations, please visit the ANAO’s website: https://www.anao.gov.au/work/events-and-seminars/impact-2023-conference-19-20-april-2023.
The Australasian Council of Auditors-General Auditors-General, Auditor-General of Samoa and Deputy Auditor General, State Audit Office of Viet Nam