SAI Thailand Champions the FAIR Concept to Respond to COVID-19 Operations Challenges
Author: Dr. Sutthi Suntharanurak, Director of International Affairs Office, State Audit Office of the Kingdom of Thailand
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the landscape of public sector auditing around the world. All Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have important lessons learned from this pandemic. SAIs face challenges in maintaining SAI independence, and in creating value and benefit for citizens during a global crisis. Even though COVID-19 disrupts the public sector auditing sector, a digital revolution could support SAIs to soften the pandemic’s consequences. The modern auditing mindset can be reflected in the FAR approach, which stands for flexibility, agility, and resilience. Likewise, AG Prajuck Boonyoung, Auditor General of Thailand, extends the FAR approach to include information technology. Thus, SAI Thailand utilizes the FAIR concept to confront the post-pandemic environment for public sector auditing.
Since 2020, the pandemic has broadly affected the public sector audit in Thailand. However, SAI Thailand reacted to foreseen and unforeseen changes in a pre-planned manner. AG Prajuck explained that flexibility is essential to preparing for a crisis. To enhance work flexibilities, all auditors and staff continued to work on routine tasks through teleworking and remote auditing.
SAI Thailand prepared a business continuity plan for audit and non-audit activities during the pandemic. The Work From Home Policy (WFHP) and Vaccination Policy ensure that daily SAI operations could continue to run, with safety considerations for the SAI and for staff. Presently, most SAI Thailand staff have received four jabs of the COVID-19 vaccination. Therefore, the agile approach could be implemented in the organization. AG Prajuck established a special team to react to emergency issues related to COVID-19, like topics related to auditing vaccination and public debt. As ad hoc task forces, these special audit teams could agilely conduct audits during the crisis. Hence, the agility mindset shows SAI Thailand’s reaction to unforeseen changes and unplanned situations.
Information technology assists SAI Thailand in preparing for digital transformation. AG Prajuck has focused on investments in digital infrastructure and human resources development in digital literacy. He emphasizes that hardware (infrastructure), software (IT programs), and “peopleware” (digital literacy) are key success factors for SAI Thailand in the next era. AG Prajuck promotes digital culture in SAI Thailand, and encourages all staff to adapt to lifelong learning.
Lastly, the resilience concept represents the ability to survive foreseen and unforeseen changes, and cope with the long-term impacts. AG Prajuck supports the Build Back Better (3Bs) concept, initiated by IDI. He views that SAI Thailand could develop sustainable resilience through lessons learned from the pandemic. Meanwhile, SAI Thailand has built a strategic audit portfolio focused on the public health sector, public debt, and social security. AG Prajuck has created a stakeholder coalition to enhance the audit capacity of SAI Thailand after the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of audit impacts, which facilitate the future value and benefit of SAI Thailand for Thai citizens.