Collaborating for a Global Profession with Local Solutions
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by Mr. Kimi Makwetu, Auditor General of South Africa and Chair of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institution’s Capacity Building Committee
The strength of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) has always been a result of its unity and diversity. Leveraging both of these elements allows us to truly succeed in a global profession using local solutions.
In recent years, the Capacity Building Committee (CBC) established a successful footprint within the INTOSAI community by demonstrating a strategic focus, recognizing the role of all key stakeholders and fostering cooperation at all levels. The concept of “global profession, local solutions” has gained support as an INTOSAI-wide approach to develop capacity, reflecting the level of preparedness to support global standards while acknowledging local conditions.
INTOSAI is such a powerful organization, primarily because we are united on a global scale, and together we strive to: develop and implement the highest quality standards in public sector auditing (Goal 1; mobilize resources and capacity development expertise and build partnerships to ensure so every INTOSAI member has access to capacity development solutions (Goal 2); encourage Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) cooperation, collaboration and continuous improvement via knowledge development, knowledge sharing and knowledge services (Goal 3; and organize and govern INTOSAI in ways that promote the best possible work practices, decision-making and effective governance
These strategic focus areas also form the cornerstone of INTOSAI’s relevance as a global player, recognized by the United Nations on more than one occasion.
Locally and regionally, our strength stems from our regional organizations and individual member SAIs, as they see to it that our professional standards, capacity development tools and our knowledge sharing mechanisms are tailored to meet regional, individual needs and unique circumstances.
During the last three-and-a-half years that I have been privileged to chair the CBC, I have become acutely aware of how INTOSAI is at its best when its various organs act together, each with its specific and distinctive function cooperating in the interest of the body that is ITOSAI, thereby benefiting each and every individual member. Allow me to share a few examples.
The process resulting in INTOSAI’s Strategic Plan 2017-22 was an exercise where we witnessed how rich and varied inputs derived from our different experiences and strategic insight were tested and distilled, enabling us to produce a plan with fresh innovations and a refined vision leading INTOSAI into the future with focus and confidence.
Intensified collaboration among the Professional Standards, Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing committees has resulted in a greater understanding and support for our mandates and respective implementation challenges, adding relevance to our outputs. The successful establishment of the Forum for INTOSAI Professional Pronouncements (and the progress the forum has already made) is a direct result of the Goal Chairs’ group effort.
One CBC objective is strengthening INTOSAI’s structured professional development, and the completion of the inaugural Competency Framework for Public Sector Audit Professionals has helped achieve this goal. The competency framework, a prime illustration that a “global profession with local solutions” is achievable, was born from the Goal Chair alliance boosted by the INTOSAI Development Initiative’s (IDI) valuable knowledge on divergent INTOSAI regional needs.
The newly established CBC Task Force on INTOSAI Auditor Professionalization has brought together members from across INTOSAI who, together, will advise INTOSAI on required mechanisms to further facilitate and structure professional development. This is a critical joint endeavor, as our success as SAIs depends on staff professional capability. SAIs face challenging work along with high stakeholder expectations, so we must have public sector audit professionals who are capable of adding maximum value by applying a combination of the right knowledge, competence and skills to produce high-quality work.
The SAI Performance Measurement Framework (SAI PMF) demonstrates how numerous stakeholders within INTOSAI, and the donor community among others joined efforts on a six-year journey to develop and pilot a template widely recognized as an excellent tool for holistic, evidence-based SAI performance measurement. Completing an appropriate SAI PMF implementation strategy in time for the XXII Congress was made possible by contributions from all INTOSAI organs, regional organizations and donor partners. Implementation is already well under way due to INTOSAI regional support along with a growing network of assessors and resource persons from the IDI and peer SAIs.
There are also several examples within the CBC on collaborative efforts that have led to success:
- The Peer Review subcommittee has enabled over 90 peer reviews from 64 SAIs since 1999 and has produced enhanced guidelines by pulling together member resources, ensuring future peer reviews benefit from lessons learned over the last 17 years.
- Cooperative audits have really taken off as a way to achieve more meaningful audit results as different SAIs jointly pursue similar audit objectives. This cooperation has resulted in valuable findings and recommendations on themes of mutual interest, such as the environment, governance, social programs, taxation, transportation, construction and infrastructure—all in the interest of a better governed world.
- The CBC’s Regional Forum on Capacity Development, continues to provide a platform to address issues using case studies on professionalism, which demonstrates how combining forces in the interest of SAI development strengthens other public sector institutions (on which good financial governance is dependent).
The CBC looks forward to continue leading INTOSAI’s efforts under Goal 2, working closely with the other goal chairs, regional organizations, the General Secretariat, IDI, INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation, and others to speak and act in unity to develop SAI capacity.
As we seek to ensure all member SAIs benefit from capacity development initiatives, I invite every SAI to engage with the CBC and its work streams to enrich our work and help us focus our efforts on strengthening our global profession while enabling local solutions.