The INTOSAI Donor Cooperation Determines a Path Forward for Supporting SAIs in Developing Countries
Major donors, supreme audit institutions (SAIs), the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI), and key stakeholders gathered on June 20 to 21 as part of the 16th INTOSAI Donor Cooperation (IDC) Steering Committee meeting to discuss and agree on ways to further enhance the positive impact of the Cooperation. Running alongside meetings of the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee (CBC), and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) MOSAIC, the Steering Committee took place in Kingston, hosted by the Auditor General of Jamaica, Ms. Pamela Monroe Ellis.
The Kingston Agreement Outlines the IDC’s Commitment to Further Enhance Accountability and Public Financial Management Throughout the World
The IDC Steering Committee discussed the future strategic direction of the Cooperation, identifying key strategies built on past successes and continuous learning to further enhance the Cooperation’s effectiveness in achieving scaled-up support for SAI capacity development. The resulting Kingston Agreement commits IDC members to increase funding for SAIs, advocate for their independent operation, and raise awareness among key stakeholders. The Kingston Agreement also emphasizes the importance of involving the INTOSAI regions to improve coordination and enable better implementation of support by leveraging regional knowledge. The full Kingston Agreement can be accessed here.
Reviewing past and present successes for IDC’s initiatives
The IDC plays a key role in brokering support to enhance the capacity of SAIs. The review of past and recent successes included overviews of new initiatives evolving from the previous Global Calls for Proposals Tiers 1 and 2. IDI’s Marcela Hommefoss presented updates and led a discussion on the roles that partners can play to ensure the success of these initiatives.
- The BUSS initiative brings SAIs, donors, and partners together at a regional level by coordinating and finding common priorities for SAI development while adjusting its scope to suit the regional context. The pilot workshop in CREFIAF region connected fifteen SAIs and seven donor organizations and implementing partners. Next, the BUSS initiative will move to the OLACEFS region, with IDI actively seeking funding for SAI needs in the region.
- The Global SAI Accountability Initiative, GSAI mobilizes well-coordinated support to a target group of SAIs in challenging contexts: Belize, Benin, Dominica, Haiti, Honduras, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Following a meeting in March 2023, these SAIs are working with peer SAIs on the design of an initial project for technical support, and are consulting with financial donors on funding to strengthen SAIs and engage in SAI advocacy.
- In place since 2017, the PAP-APP initiative mobilizes scaled-up support to nine selected SAIs in Africa that face challenges: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Togo and Zimbabwe. IDI and AFROSAI-E also have collaborated to provide support to the SAIs of South Sudan and Somalia since 2017. There is still continuous need to engage and develop effective and fundable projects.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saudi Arabian General Court of Audit launched a new round of funding of USD 1 million through the Saudi Fund for Improved SAI performance (SAUDI FISP) to distribute amongst those INTOSAI members with the greatest need for support in developing and expanding their information technology infrastructure. Since the creation of the FISP fund in 2021, 28 SAIs have received grants, and 15 more have been accepted to be recipients.
Chairwoman of SAI Aruba, Xiomara Croes-Williams also spoke about another initiative initially created by the Cooperation and rolled out by IDI, in her discussion about SAI Aruba’s experience with the SAI Performance Management Framework (SAI PMF). SAI PMF, as a holistic assessment, found areas of improvement, including SAI independence. SAI Aruba is unable to administer its budget or appoint its own staff. SAI Aruba is taking action to address other areas, but noted that concerns about independence required a modernization of the SAI’s legal framework.
Ensuring SAI Independence
Through discussions and panels, the IDC Steering Committee reflected on the Cooperation’s work to ensure SAI independence, and how donors and stakeholders can promote independence through advocacy and coordination. SAI independence is challenged in many regions of the world, and independence has deteriorated in recent years. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro of the U.S. GAO commented that the IDC makes a positive impact by helping SAIs develop their own strategic development plan as a foundation of their independence.
To underpin these foundations, the IDC took the significant step in 2022 of appointing the Right Hon. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP) to serve as the IDC Goodwill Ambassador for SAI Independence from 2022 to 2024. As a global ambassador and voice for SAI Independence, Ms. Clark promotes SAI independence on the worldwide policy agenda on public financial management, integrity, and accountability.
Einar Gørrissen, Director General of IDI, shared how SAIs are impacted by independence threats at ground level and what can be done about it. IDI’s SAI Independence Rapid Advocacy Mechanism (SIRAM) works quickly to address threats of independence to SAIs. Through the SIRAM, the IDI carries out an assessment of the threat of breach to independence, identifies an appropriate response. and monitors response implementation. The SIRAM started in 2019 with the pilot cases of North Macedonia and Somalia. Since, IDI has received requests for assistance from Ghana Cyprus, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Myanmar, Poland, Sudan and Sierra Leone.
Sharing the Pacific region’s experiences, Ms. Sinaroseta Palamo-Iosefo, Director of Practice Development for PASAI, described the long journey for some SAIs to ensure their independence. The PASAI region developed an independent resource kit to help SAIs understand the principles underpinning SAI independence and access resources and information to establish, enhance or preserve their independence.
Speaking from the donor perspective, Ms. Susanne Wille of the European Commission shared how SAIs greatly benefit from donor and stakeholder partners to develop long-term sustainability to become strong and independent. “It takes much more than one project to help an endangered institution to grow and to strengthen.”
Mr. Sekou Keita from the African Development Bank, also shared similar sentiments, and emphasized that continued advocacy for SAI independence and support from stakeholders within a country’s system will help drive long- term approaches to SAI independence.
Exploring the Capacities of SAIs in Technology and Innovation, and Climate Change Action
As part of the IDC Steering Committee meeting, several sessions explored the roles that SAIs can play in technology and innovation, and fighting climate change.
Led by the World Bank, the first session showcased new and innovative practices using technology to improve audits, which fostered discussions around capacities needed to for SAIs to benefit from using technology, and how can donors support them.
Minister Bruno Dantas, INTOSAI Chair, said that leveraging technology and digital innovation in audit has become imperative. Minister Dantas and Annette Kougbe of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) spoke about utilizing digital maturity models to help address different technological capacities for SAIs at varying maturity levels. Minister Dantas hopes the model will promote collaboration and knowledge sharing, and encourage use of technology in auditing practices.
Emilio Barriga of SAI Mexico and Taka Ariga of the U.S. GAO spoke about the implementation of big data, and artificial intelligence, respectively, in audits, and how SAIs can start to begin developing the capacities for these new technologies and innovations.
IDI’s Camilla Fredriksen led the session exploring the role that SAIs can play in fighting climate change through relevant initiatives. Ms. Vivi Niemenmaa, Secretary General of the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) assembly, spoke about the INTOSAI Donor Cooperation Working Group on Climate Change, which aims to scale up support on climate change audits and technical capacity building, and help to secure peer-to-peer support. Minister Bruno Dantas, INTOSAI Chair, shared information on the ClimateScanner, a project that encourages SAIs to produce an overview on global climate governance and governmental actions as a response to the climate crisis. Mr. Arturo Herrera of the World Bank reflected that emerging challenges over the last several years, such as climate change, require SAIs to adapt by expanding their scope and skills.
Global Affairs Canada Joins as the New Donor Vice Chair
The meeting was delighted to welcome Mr. Mathieu Lafreniere from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as the new Donor Vice Chair. GAC joins the IDC leadership, which includes the World Bank, the General Court of Audit of Saudi Arabia, the United States Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO), and the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI).
“Canada is happy to step into the IDC leadership. One of my top priorities is to provide a new impetus to this great and unique cooperation. A concrete action we will take in the very near future is to implement an outreach strategy to expand involvement and mobilize support for audit institutions in developing countries.” Mr. Mathieu Lafreniere, Global Affairs Canada
The IDC is committed to enhancing SAI capacity development, independence, and accountability and, as shown through the Steering Committee meeting and the Kingston Agreement, will improve upon the coordination between donors, stakeholder partners, and the SAI community in strengthening SAIs in developing countries. The IDC leadership will finalize an implementation plan for the Kingston Agreement in August 2023 and looks forward to building upon its strong track record of success in fulfilling its mission.