Capacity Building – personally and institutionally rewarding in Tanzania NAO
Being introduced to performance audit for the first time, you can face difficulties in mind-set, thinking that you will always have to conduct audit only in areas of specialization, and nothing else will work just as well. The concerns of conducting audits in unfamiliar areas may bring along a feeling of not being able to do ones best. This idea however, is most likely to change, after having learned that audits can also be conducted in areas which were never in your field of specialization. The success of attending the AFROSAI–E Performance Audit three module-course, together with on-the-job training provided to our SAI, has given the auditors of our office confidence to conduct performance audits in any area, since its principles are not guided by what you are specialized in.
However, there can still be challenges. Examples of typical such challenges are to complete the audit within the time given, and at the same time meet the required quality, or to plan and produce reader friendly reports, structured in a logical way meeting the interest of the various stakeholders. These challenges can be overcome, however, through various capacity building efforts, in terms of short term training, both in- (on-the-job-training) and outside the NAOT office.
Through cooperation between SAI’s, the exposure to new ideas on how to measure impact, i.e. quantitative methods that can be employed in the performance audit, helps in measuring different aspects. Also, the exposure to the above-mentioned trainings, together with the on-the-job training and short courses on advanced performance, focusing on quality control of the reports, contributes much to the performance and generally improved results. The following lessons learned from capacity building efforts should be given special mention:
- Ensuring sufficient time for peer review of the reports within the audit teams- as well as from the management- is crucial, and has a lot of impact on improving the quality of the reports.
- The use of different methods in data collection. In Tanzania documentation is a challenge in most of the public entities, so using various methods of data collection is helpful in backing up data.
- The importance of allocating team responsibility based on the strength of each team member, which helps in saving time and assists in optimizing the contribution from each team member, stimulating active participation and ownership of the audit work.
- The need for counter-checking the logical flow of the report, by linking various parts along with the processes, e.g. recommendation vs the audit problem, audit questions vs audit evidence/data/findings, and conclusions vs audit objectives. This is all useful in ensuring that the audit sticks to the objectives.
- The need of using the principles of positive feedback, and to appreciate that the language we use, and how we present things, does matter a lot.
- The importance of team work and the art of giving and receiving feedback in a peer-to-peer cooperation deserves long-term appreciation.
The success achieved thanks to the above, was crowned by the audit report “Hygiene Control in Meat Production Process“, in which we both participated, that was awarded the best performance audit report in the AFROSAI-E region in 2016.
Summing up, capacity building through cooperation between SAIs is very key to the output of the SAI products, as well as to individual staff performance. SAIs need to continue to focus on capacity for maintained quality, to keep their reputation and the trust of their citizens.