Public Sector Auditing

THE ROLE OF THE OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL (OAG)

The office of Auditor General of Rwanda (OAG) was established in 1998 and began its operations in 2000.  The 2003 Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda recognised OAG as the Supreme Audit Institution and defined it as an independent office vested with legal personality, financial and administrative autonomy.

The OAG published the results of their strategic plan for 2011/12 – 2015/16 which sets out its approach in addressing areas such as:-

  • Staff retention
  • Capacity in performance auditing
  • Outreach to stakeholders
  • Increasing financial audit coverage

The OAG has involved the services of a public financial management expert (OAG Strategic Advisor/Programme Coordinator) to support the implementation of the strategic plan.

The OAG organisational structure comprises of:- • Auditor General

  • Deputy Auditor General
  • Audit, administrative and support staff

The following directorates are found within the OAG:-

  • Directorate of Central Administration
  • Directorate of Autonomous Public Enterprises
  • Directorate of Local Administration
  • Directorate of Projects and Programmes
  • Directorate of Quality Assurance
  • Directorate of Administration and Finance

THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE OAG AND AUDITEES FUNCTION

The Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of Rwanda is the Office of the Auditor General of State Finances.

The Auditor  General of State Finances is vested with legal personality and has financial and administrative autonomy.  It is further provided in the Constitution that no person shall be permitted to interfere in the functioning of the Office or to give instructions to its personnel or to cause them to change their methods of work.

Responsibilities of the Auditor General include the following:

  • Auditing objectively whether revenues and expenditures of the State as well as local government organs, public enterprises, privatised state enterprises, joint enterprises in which the State is participating and government projects were in accordance with the laws and regulations in force and in conformity with the prescribed justifications;
  • Auditing the finances of the institutions referred to above and particularly verifying whether the expenditures were in conformity with the law and sound management and whether they were necessary;
  • Carrying out all audits of accounts, management, portfolio and strategies which were applied in institutions mentioned above.

Reporting by the Auditor General

The Constitution requires the Office of the Auditor General to:-

  • Report to the Chamber of Deputies on the implementation of the state budget of the previous year. This report must indicate the manner in which the budget was utilised, unnecessary expenses which were incurred or expenses which were incurred contrary to the law and whether there was misappropriation or general squandering of public funds- an audit of budget execution reports.
  • Submit a copy of the report to the :-

♦ President of the Republic

♦ Cabinet

♦ President of the Supreme Court

♦ Prosecutor General of the Republic

  • Carry out a financial audit of any institution of the State or with regard to the use of funds provided by the State as may be required by Chamber of Deputies from time to time.

An important recent step has been the establishment of a Public Accounts Committee (PAC). This published its first report into transactions from the 2009-10 financial year. The relationship between the OAG and the PAC will be an important part of strengthening the accountability of audited entities in the future.

SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS FOR PUBLIC SECTOR AUDITING

Public sector audit has a key role to play in safeguarding public money, ensuring proper accountability, upholding appropriate standards of conduct in public services and helping public services achieve value for money.

Public sector auditors are accountable for their performance and are duty bound to undertake their work in a professional, objective and cost-effective manner and with due regard to the needs of the organisations they audit. Public Sector Auditors should:-

  • Plan each audit with a thorough understanding of the audited business and its environment
  • Consult with the public sector bodies regarding their overall audit approach
  • Consider timing of the audit and agree the audit timetable for submission of good quality accounts and completion of the audit
  • Focus on risk areas of error, fraud, or other irregularities
  • Be accessible throughout the year to the public sector bodies that they audit
  • Work closely with internal auditors

The ability of the auditor to perform his/her duties effectively and in a timely fashion depends heavily on the co-operation of those they are auditing.

Public sector auditors around the world undertake several different types of audit: financial audit, which aims to ensure that the financial statements of audited entities present a fair view of their financial activities during the reporting period and their Statement of Financial Position (or balance sheet) at its close; compliance audit, which attempts to validate that transactions have been undertaken in compliance with appropriate legislation and regulation, and performance audit, which looks at Value for Money or the effective, efficient and economical usage of public resources (this is sometimes called the “3Es” audit.

ISA 300 – Planning an audit of financial statements can be applied in relation to public sector auditing.

THE ROLE OF INTOSAI

INTOSAI was founded in 1963 at the initiative of Emilio Fernandez Camus, then President of the SAI of Cuba. The OAG of Rwanda is a member of INTOSAI.

The International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) operates as a support organisation for the external government audit community.  For over 50 years it has provided an institutionalised framework for supreme audit institutions to promote development and transfer of knowledge, improve government auditing worldwide and enhance professional capacities.

A crucial moment in the history of INTOSAI, and of public sector auditing generally, was the Lima Declaration of October 1977 at the IX INCOSAI held in Lima, Peru (INCOSAI stands for the International Congress of Supreme Audit Institutions, held every three years). This made crucial statements about matters such as the independence of public sector auditors. Such independence must not only exist in practice but must also be anchored in the law. The Declaration made important statements on such matters as the budget of the SAI and its relationship with Parliament.  More detail was added by the Mexico Declaration of 2007.

Regional Working Groups promote INTOSAI’s goals regionally, providing members with opportunities of professional and technical cooperation on a regional basis.

The INTOSAI Governing Board has 7 regional Working Groups.  Working groups are formed as a result of INTOSAI themes and recommendations to address SAI’s interests in specific technical issues (e.g. privatisation, environmental audit)

Working groups publish specific guidance and best practices as a result of their work.

Members of INTOSAI are free to join working groups according to their interests.

Example: 

The African Working Group – AFROSAI – African Organization of Supreme Audit

Institutions

INTOSAI currently has 4 main objectives:-

  • Professional Standards – to establish effective frameworks for the adoption of professional standards that correspond to the demands and expectations of member institutions
  • Capacity Building – to focus on institutional capacity-building activities of direct relevance to the majority of INTOSAI’s members
  • Knowledge Sharing & Knowledge Services – to build on the essential features of openness, sharing and cooperation.
  • Model International Organisation – to promote the organization and governance of INTOSAI.

On the subject of professional standards, it is notable that in 2007 that INTOSAI established the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs). This is backed up by the INTOSAI Guidance for Good Governance (INTOSAI GOV). INTOSAI is committed to the raising of awareness of the ISSAIs in the future.

 

 

 

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