National Audit Office (NAO) of Kosovo is voted a full rights Member of INTOSAI, the World Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions
from Bujar Leskaj
This article is published in "Albania Daily News", on October 9-th, 2019.
On September 24, 2019, the INTOSAI Governing Board approved by majority vote the membership of Kosovo's National Audit Office (NAO) into the world organization of supreme audit institutions. A well-deserved success for the world's newest public audit office, with only 15 years of life (NAO of Kosovo was established in 2009). The voting occurred on during the XXIII-th Congress of INTOSAI held in Moscow. Despite Kosovo NAO's remarkable progress in audit knowledge, extensive training and projects developed with partner SAIs, its full integration into the INTOSAI organization was not easy. It would not have been possible had it not been for the firm support of the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Comptroller General of the United States of America, Mr. Gene L. Dodaro. Mr. Dodaro, INTOSAI's number one personality, was personally involved with the INTOSAI Governing Board. In INTOSAI, Mr. Dodaro plays a leading role in the organization's strategic alignments. A great friend of Albanians and ALSAI, Mr. Dodaro is the inspiration and leading force behind the prepation and successful implementation of INTOSAI Strategic
Development Plans 2006-2010, 2011-2016 and the present 2017-2022.
It was his unwavering belief in the values and necessity of Kosovo NAO's integration as a full member in INTOSAI. This contribution was instrumental in the success of the Kosovo supreme audit institution (SAI). The SAI of Serbia voted against and within the Governing Board, the SAI of Russia, which assumed the INTOSAI presidency, opposed the membership as well. Meanwhile, other INTOSAI Board members, the European Court of Auditors, headed by Mr. Klaus-Heiner Lehne, the SAIs of Austria, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Brazil, New Zealand,etc. were in support. It should be noted that the Board's decision on Kosovo SAI membership was an expression of a strong emancipation of INTOSAI, which with 192 member countries is the largest professional organization under the UN umbrella.
A special contribution was given by Ms. Margit Kraker, Secretary-General of INTOSAI and President of the Austrian Court of Audit, a SAI among the most weighty, experienced and well-developed SAIs, inheriting a large audit tradition.
In the meantime, many other powerful partners came alongside Kosovo's SAI. A more than valuable contribution to membership was given by the Polish State Audit Office (NIK), a developed SAI and a key partner of ALSAI in these years. We as ALSAI (High State Control) have implemented a European Union financed IPA Twinning Project with the Polish NIK, while the Kosovo NAO has a promising cooperation agreement with the Poles. On this basis and on the gained experience, the trust and appreciation of the Polish SAI towards the NAO is outstanding. In Moscow, the contribution of the Vice President of NIK, Mr. Wojciech Kutyla (former director of the IPA 2013 Twinning Project for ALSAI in 2016-2018), in support of full Kosovo NAO’s membership proved valuable. His arguments were weighty and came in time.
A precious support was also provided by the Swedish SAI, one of the most developed and active SAIs in the INTOSAI community, with which the National Audit Office of Kosovo has a long period of successful cooperation from 2011 until 2019, as well as the SAI of Croatia, with President Mr. Ivan Klesic.
For years, the NAO of Kosovo has been supported by Kosovo and ALSAI friends, such as former NIK Presidents Jacez Jezierski and Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, Bulgarian SAI President Mr. Tzvetan Tzvetkov, President of the SAI Senate of Montenegro, Mr. Milan Dabovic, former President of the Austrian Court of Audit and former INTOSAI Secretary General Dr. Joseph Moser, former President of the European Court of Auditors Dr. Vitor Caldeira, former President of the Court of Audit of Slovenia and Member of the European Parliament Dr. Igor Sholtes, former President of the Turkish Court of Accounts Prof. Dr. Rejai Akyel, Acting Chairman of SAI of Northern Macedonia Mr. Naser Ademi, Director of Strategic Planning at GAO, Mr. James Blockwood and dozens of other personalities.
The success of Kosovo’s NAO did not come by chance. It has been conceived during the difficult years of its creation and growth. This achievement came laso as a result of the valuable work of the NAO's audit troupe, led by Auditor General Besnik Osmani, towards deep reform of the institution, recognition of the field internationally recognized standards, the ISSAIs and their application to practice, especially in financial and performance audits. A reform initiated by an international audit personality, Mr. Lars Lafe Olofsson, former SIGMA (an EU and OECD-funded "Support to Improvement in Governance and Management" program) Senior Adviser, who guided the NAO of Kosovo since its establishment in 2009 until 2015.
Mr. Olofsson contributed to deepening the Kosovo NAO-ALSAI cooperation. He is credited with the enhanced cooperation relation that the NAO has with a very valuable and developed partner, such as the Swedish NAO (National Audit Office).
The full membership of the NAO of Kosovo, which becomes effective on January 1, 2020 is undoubtedly not only the greatest success in the history of the public external audit of the State of Kosovo, but also an achievement in the campaign for worldwide recognition of Kosovo's institutions by international partners. We, as ALSAI, are proud of our brother SAI's success in auditing, to which we have tried modestly to contribute. The ALSAI agreement with the NAO of Kosovo was the first international agreement I concluded in February 2012. For me personally, it remains the most special and inspiring agreement. These seven and a half years have seen the occurrence of dozens of workshops, conferences, roundtables and joint workshops, organized by both SAIs. Everything is provided on the basis of a strong and sincere cooperative spirit. With the SAI of Kosovo, our auditors have shared audit experience and results. We have conducted joint performance audits, either on our own initiative or in the framework of the EUROSAI Working Groups initiatives. We have published ‘professional books together, developed joint work analyzes and exchanged various manuals and guides in Albanian on international standards of public supreme audit (the ISSAIs).
On this occasion, on behalf of the Albanian auditors, I would to thank the guarantors of the integration of Kosovo's SAI into the big family of supreme audit institutions of the world, the INTOSAI. In the first place, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) and its Comptroller General, Mr. Gene L. Dodaro, the INTOSAI Secretary-General Ms. Margit Kraker, the European Court of Auditors, Polish NIK, Croatia's SAI and the Swedish National Audit Office. Thank you and always grateful for what you have done!
These guarantors do represent as well a warranty for the sustainable development of the National Audit Office of Kosovo in the future, towards the transformation into a modern European SAI. Our journey with the Kosovo’s NAO is co-shared. We share the same missions, values, and goals for the future of our institutions in the family of European Union SAIs, in an ongoing effort to provide our citizens with added value in managing their money effectively, efficiently and with economy. We will continue with joint audits in many areas, as two or three initiated projects have performed well so far.
This membership takes a particular value and is an example of reform and lobbying work for other Kosovo’s institutions in their efforts to obtain the integration of Kosovo in the EU, at a time when, unfortunately, Serbian institutions are strongly lobbying against this process.
Cherry on the cake! This almost unanimous voting membership of the participating SAIs took place in Moscow at the XXIII-rd INTOSAI Congress. Thank you INTOSAI and Dodaro!