On September 23-27, 2019 The XXIII Congress of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions was held in Moscow. The congress was attended by 600 delegates from 168 SAI-s out of 192 members, representing all INTOSAI regional organizations.
The Congress was greeted by Ms. Margaret Kraker, General Secretary of INTOSAI and President of the Austrian Court of Audit, as well as by the senior executives of the Russian Federation.
INTOSAI Governing Board, which is attended by SAI-s of 20 countries (Austria, USA, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Brazil, Norway, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Gabon, China, Japan, Bahamas, Portugal, Argentine, Peru) developed on dates 23 and 24, a meeting preceding the INTOSAI Congress and on September 24 approved by majority vote the full admission of the National Audit Office of Kosovo (NAO) as a full right member of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions. The proposal was conceived and strongly supported by the USA SAI (GAO) and the Austrian Court of Audit.
During the adoption of the INTOSAI Secretariat Report in plenary sesssion on September 25, 2019, the Congress voted in favor of this report, confirming the NAO-s of Kosovo as membership in INTOSAI from January 1-st, 2020. During the voting process in the Congress, Serbia-s SAI opposed the membership of National Audit Office of Kosovo in this important international institution.
The representatives of the Albanian Supreme State Audit Institution, authorized by the Chairman of the ALSAI, Mr. Bujar Leskaj, strongly supported the decision of the INTOSAI Secretariat, headed by the President of the Austrian Court of Audit, initiated by the United States GAO of America, emphasizing that the NAO fulfills all the criteria and conditions for being a member of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). This position was also supported by the SAI representatives of several other countries, particularly the Polish Audit Office (NIK), through Mr. Kutyla, Vice President of NIK, who has been one of SAI-s key partners in the path of institutional modernization in recent years, as well as Sweden-s SAI.
The following days the Congress addressed two main topics: I. Information Technology and its role in the development of public administration; II. Role of SAI-s in Sustainable Development Goals.
I. Information Technology and its role in the development of public administration
On topic I, many important issues related to IT developments were discussed because in the recent years these developments have significantly influenced the lives of citizens around the world. The technological revolution, in particular mobile telephony, big data and artificial intelligence, is in constant development. In the process, new technological developments have brought exponential growth of data in various forms, creating the opportunity for public decision making to be more rational and efficient. During the plenary sessions on this topic, the different speakers discussed the following topics:
• The Role of IT in Public Administration;
• Using data to improve public administration;
• Big Data characteristics;
• The role of Big Data in fulfilling the tasks of SAI-s;
• Challenges that should be faced by Big Data Auditing.
At the end of the discussions, the most common problems that SAI-s face in terms of technological developments are “Technological challenges”, “Lack of professionals”, “Lack of design by senior executives for IT audits” and “Insufficient budget and investments in IT”.
The application of Big Data Audit methods, both in government operations, in government finances and in the budget, as well as in social services, have led to some SAI-s that have applied model building through analyzing Big Data, finding abnormal transactions and bringing the results in the fight against fraud and corruption.
II. Role of SAI-s in Sustainable Development Goals
In this plenary session the most important discussion was that of Mr. Gene Dodaro, Auditor General of the US Government Audit Office. Mr. Dodaro underlined the link between the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the GAO-s Strategic Development Plan, which also addresses vital and relevant issues in the USA.
If referring to the High Risk Program, starting in 1990, this program has focused on higher-risk government operations for fraud, theft, abuse, mismanagement in order to meet the challenges of economics, efficiency and effectiveness.
In terms of achieving the objectives of sustainable development - continued Mr. Dodaro - we must have a new approach, new ways of thinking and new governance capacities that are essential for national governments to achieve national objectives, including those of sustainable development.
In conclusion, we can say that by adopting a full governance approach in their audits, SAI-s can contribute to the achievement of national priorities and objectives, bringing value and benefits to stakeholders and citizens.
On September 27, the Congress adopted the Moscow Declaration (attached), which states that INTOSAI member SAI-s:
• recognize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2015, and United Nations General Assembly Resolution A / RES / 69/228 “The promotion and the inducement of efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency in public administration, in strengthening the Supreme Audit Institutions”;
• reaffirm the commitment to make a significant independent audit contribution to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda as set out in the Abu Dhabi Declaration;
• recognize the independence of SAI-s as a fundamental precondition for an effective contribution to accountability, transparency, good governance, good use of public funds and the values and benefits of SAI-s in accordance with ISSAI 12 and INTOSAI Strategic Plan 2017-2022;
• implement the INTOSAI Framework for Professional Statements.
They state that future directions of public audit depend on the strong commitment of SAI-s and INTOSAI-s to:
I- ensuring independent external oversight of the achievement of national objectives, including those related to sustainable development objectives;
II- respond effectively to the opportunities brought by technological progress;
III- increasing the impact of SAI-s on public management accountability and transparency.
The members of INTOSAI agreed as follows:
1. SAI-s are encouraged to contribute to more effective, transparent and accountable outcomes, bearing in mind the complexity of the governments efforts needed to support the achievement of national and sustainable development objectives.
2. SAI-s are encouraged to develop strategic public audit approaches that support the achievement of national and sustainable development objectives.
3. SAI-s can enhance the value of public auditing by expanding the preparation of audit-based information on important and strategic public administration issues as well as government functions.
4. SAI-s can promote the principle of accessing and making available data, source code and algorithms.
5. SAI-s may aim to make better use of data analysis in audits, including adapting strategies for planning such audits, establishing experienced data analysis groups, and introducing new techniques in public audit practice.
6. SAI-s can foster experimental thinking to improve innovation and development.
7. SAI-s can extend their focus to:
(a) identifying risk areas of national and international interest and awareness of the risks;
(b) the needs for managing systemic risks in governance, in addition to the operational, institutional and other risks of a single entity.
8. SAI-s are encouraged to educate future auditors who can use data analytics, artificial intelligence tools and advanced qualitative methods to foster innovation and act as strategic actors, knowledge exchangers, and foresight producers.
9. SAI-s should consider finding more ways to address inclusiveness when conducting audits that have as their main point the 2030 Agenda, with the principle of leaving no one behind and other development agendas.
10. SAI-s can enhance their positive impact by establishing a productive interaction with the audited subject and by strengthening collaboration and communication with the academic community and the public in general.
Achieving this vision requires engagement from individual SAI-s, as well as collaborative support for SAI-s from all INTOSAI bodies, such as special Objectives Committees, INTOSAI structures, regional organizations, IDI, International Magazine and Governance Audit and the General Secretariat.
Multilateral and bilateral cooperation between SAI-s will continue to play a particularly important role in helping SAI-s remain relevant. At the conclusion of this important event it was decided that the next INTOSAI Congress, INCOSAI XXIV, would be held in Brazil.
In this important activity, the ALSAI was represented by Ms. Luljeta Nano, Secretary General; Ms. Manjola Naço, General Manager and Ms. Irena Islami, Director of the Directorate of Communication, Publication and Foreign Relations.