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The 21st Conference of Commonwealth Auditors-General was held in Windhoek, Namibia, April 10–13, 2011. The conference, entitled “Pioneering Excellence in Public Sector Auditing,” brought together 38 representatives of the 54 Commonwealth Auditors-General.Representatives of more than 20 SAIs delivered principal and country papers on the following conference themes:

Sub Theme 1 –‘Strengthening financial management in the public sector’ (chaired by the SAI of the Cayman Islands),

Sub Theme 2 –‘Aligning institutional capacity and performance of SAIs’ (chaired by the SAI of Zambia), and

Conference Theme -‘International developments in building SAI capacity—the commonwealth’s role’ (chaired by the SAI of the United Kingdom).

The final theme was discussed in a workshop in which the future role of the Commonwealth Auditors-General conferences was also deliberated.

Conclusions on Sub-Theme 1: Strengthening Financial Management in the Public Sector – ‘Pioneering Excellence in Public Sector Auditing’.

Following presentations of the Core and Country Papers, and relative discussions relating to Sub-Theme 1 were noted:

SAIs should consider recommending to their governments to adopt national and international standards such as IPSAs. SAIs should consider recommending to their governments to move towards accrual accounting. A strong legal framework is required to strengthen financial management in order to safeguard public assets and to use public resources in the most economic, efficient and effective way. Sound planning and budgeting is required to ensure robust fiscal and macro-economic policies necessary for the economic growth. The budget process should be transparent, consultative and should involve all stakeholders. It should focus more on outputs, rather than on processes and inputs. Financial laws and regulations should stipulate responsibilities of accounting officers as well as establishment of internal control systems which include an internal audit function and audit committees. Improving public financial management can only be achieved if there are institutions responsible for monitoring and overseeing public funds, such as SAIs and Parliament. SAIs help to strengthen financial management of the public sector by conducting different types of audits. The effectiveness of the country’s financial management could be enhanced through strong institutional capacity of the SAI.

Conclusions on Sub-Theme 2: Aligning Institutional Capacity and Performance of SAIs – Pioneering Excellence in Public Sector Auditing’.

Following presentations of the Core and Country Papers, and relative discussions relating to Sub-Theme 2, were noted:

The 2007 INTOSAI Guide on building capacity in SAIs serves as a useful guidance for SAIs in building their capacity. The SAI Stocktaking Report produced by INTOSAI and the international donor community in 2010 incorporates the key areas which were found to require most attention by SAIs. The Framework for Communicating and Promoting the Value and Benefit of SAIs, endorsed by INTOSAI XX in 2010, is noted as an important document in promoting and building a SAI as an independent model institution. The AFROSAI-E Institutional Capacity Framework provides a comprehensive set of provisions relating to Capacity Building by SAIs. It was highlighted that capacity building is not an end in itself, but is to be aligned to the improvement of performance of SAIs in order to meet expectations of stakeholders. ISSAIs, that have been endorsed during INCOSAI XX in Johannesburg in November, 2010, serve as the key basis for capacity building for SAIs. For capacity building to be aligned with performance of SAIs, it is essential that adequate legislative provisions exist that ensure functional independence of SAIs, in terms of the Lima and Mexico Declarations. Capacity building and performance of SAIs is to be undertaken, not just in terms of audit standards and methodology, but in all other areas effecting SAIs, namely the Legal Framework, Organisation and Management, Human Resources, and Communication and Stakeholder Management. Where audit activities are concerned, capacity building involves not just one aspect of auditing but all areas of auditing conducted by SAIs, such as Financial and Regulatory Audits, Performance/Value for Money Audits, IT Audits, Environmental Audits, Social Audits, and Special Audits and Investigations. Commonwealth SAIs are to interact amongst themselves, as well as with other SAIs, to identify capacity building activities that they may cooperate in so as to help improve performance of their respective SAIs. Peer Reviews between Commonwealth SAIs, as well as between other SAIs, help identify areas of the organization requiring improvements for the performance of SAIs in order to identify what capacity building activities are required. It is useful for SAIs to collaborate with other local and foreign professional and other organizations, such as the Civil Society, Parliament, the Executive, Auditees, Internal Auditors, Academic organizations and private sector auditors, in order to identify areas for capacity building. It is preferable for SAIs to align their goals with Government goals and vision so as to ensure that any capacity building activities take note of these goals. SAIs are to be flexible and adaptive in their capacity building activities in order to adapt to changing circumstances. Strategic plans of SAIs should take into account any capacity building activities that may be required in the short, medium or long term. Any capacity building activities to improve performance of SAIs are not one-off activities, but are to be sustained over the medium and long term.

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