Preparing for the Journey Toward Progress

/Progress/: the forward or onward movement toward a destination; advance or development toward a better, more complete, or more modern condition.

This issue of the Journal is dedicated to the XXIII International Congress of Supreme Audit Institutions (INCOSAI) held in Moscow, Russia, September 23-28, 2019, and we invite you to join us on a journey toward progress.

The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) has a rich history that began in 1953, as 34 Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) gathered for the inaugural INCOSAI in Cuba. Over the years, INTOSAI has forged several paths lined with progress in auditing, which includes a strategic shift in promoting and implementing professionalization, capacity development, knowledge sharing and value-added initiatives.

Such progress is like climbing a mountain. It is a journey that requires us to work together and remain steadfast in our efforts to reach the summit. It also requires us to prepare and equip ourselves with the right gear.

INTOSAI aims to continuously evolve—to more effectively meet present challenges in public audit while also helping to shape the global accountability community of the future. Key drivers to achieving this vision (the mountain’s summit) includes the INTOSAI Strategic Plan 2017-2022 (compass); shared goals and priorities (map); standards and training (guides); and collaborative environments (bridges).

INCOSAI XXIII is one such bridge—helping us progress from where we are now to where we want to be. As host of the 2019 Congress in Moscow, the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation (Schetnaya Palata) and its President, Aleksei Kudrin, envisioned a Congress that included vivid and open discussions on the modern role of SAIs and how progress in what we do and how we communicate adds value to the lives of citizens.

“Trust in public institutions is steadily declining, and SAIs should strive to reverse this trend through the information we share and the audits we perform,” Kudrin emphasized.

Recognizing the importance of audit work to society, Kudrin noted that independent evaluations on the effective and legitimate use of public funds can greatly influence the quality of public administration. He also noted the introduction of how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) compel SAIs to expand audit work beyond employing typical audits.

He pointed to re-emphasizing the importance of performance audit, strategic research and government consulting to more effectively and efficiently achieve goals—nationally and globally—and cited a need to develop new SAI roles aimed at responding to urgent issues and extending expertise in consultancy and research.

As the auditing field continues to change, particularly with the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution and digitalization, so should the auditor’s role.

“Problems raised by the auditing community are of crucial importance, as is establishing a complex vision of these issues and taking into account all aspects that directly or indirectly affect solutions,” Kudrin affirmed.

These major challenges, trends and approaches were at the forefront of INCOSAI XXIII and are incorporated into the Moscow Declaration, which also reflects essential ideas highlighted within the two primary Congress themes: “Information Technology for the Development of Public Administration”and “The Role of SAIs in Achieving National Priorities and Goals.”

The Congress agenda included panel discussions led by the world’s most prominent experts, heads of international organizations and private sector representatives. These panels, according to Kudrin, were designed to allow delegates to “look beyond and improve our perception of global challenges” faced today, as well as in the future.

INTOSAI’s diversity, breadth and depth of experience “provides a platform that allows different countries to interact and increase effectiveness by exchanging experiences, sharing best practices and developing and implementing international standards, guidance and recommendations,” according to Kudrin.

Capitalizing on this shared experience is a distinct advantage to INTOSAI and the community it serves, particularly at the triennial congress, where upwards of 600 INTOSAI members and partner organization representatives united to share insights and best practices designed to generate growth and foster progress.

These shared efforts provide meaning, motivation and a common purpose to make headway in reaching the top of the mountain. Kudrin believes that, surely, such an organization can inspire governments to adopt positive decisions aimed at securing SAI independence and implementing proactive approaches to audit.

There will always be peaks and valleys; however, staying on track by collaborating with, and supporting the work of, colleagues, means we can conquer the rise of the mountain, aspire to reach as high as the clouds with new thoughts and ideas, and exemplify the INTOSAI motto, “Mutual Experience Benefits All.”

We appreciate SAI Russia staff for an engaging, thought-provoking event and are grateful to all INCOSAI XXIII participants for creating, and participating in, an exciting new leg of the INTOSAI journey!

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