By Jane Meade, Group Executive Director, Australian National Audit Office
Throughout my career as an auditor, trainer, and technical specialist I have had a particular passion for learning and development. During the application process to join the Forum for INTOSAI Professional Pronouncements (FIPP) I was therefore pleased to learn that one of the projects I would have the opportunity to review was the development of INTOSAI professional pronouncements on Auditor Competence.
At its June and September 2021 meetings, FIPP reviewed proposed exposure drafts for an audit standard and two guidance documents on auditor competence. These draft documents were of great interest to me personally as I am currently co-leading a project in SAI Australia to review our organisation’s learning and development framework with an objective of creating a coherent and structured approach to learning and development.
The reason for undertaking such a project in my SAI is to ensure that there is a coherent and structured approach to learning and development. We have developed a clear structured capability framework for staff. However, training to develop these competencies has, over time, become decentralised and not clearly part of a structured pathway curriculum. While staff are receiving high quality training and training hours exceed our benchmarks, it is not clear that there is a clear pathway through the capability framework that is consistent across the organisation. The process set out in the proposed GUIDS provides a framework for achieving this.
The exposure drafts of ISSAI 150 – Auditor Competence; GUID 1950 – guidance on the development of competency frameworks for auditors; and GUID 1951 – guidance on the development of pathways for professional development of auditors, were developed by the Taskforce on INTOSAI Auditor Professionalisation (TFIAP) under the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee (CBC). ISSAI 150 will set out organisational requirements for SAIs to follow in determining auditor competencies.
As a potential user of this standard and the accompanying guidance, a key aspect is that it allows for the concept of “global profession, local solution”, meaning that the standard is sufficiently flexible to consider unique characteristics of individual SAIs, such as their mandate, size and stage of development.
Of particular interest for me in the context of the current project in which I am involved are the two guidance documents. The proposed GUIDs outline processes for determining unique public sector competencies and developing pathways for professional development. Importantly, the documents are not written just for auditors. They combine concepts which are familiar to human resources professionals with specific public sector auditing requirements. That is, the documents tailor the processes for developing competency frameworks and learning pathways to the needs of public sector audit organisations. This approach fills a gap that I think currently exists and will hopefully provide supports to SAIs in this important area.
I would encourage all SAIs to consider these documents as they are exposed and urge auditors to work with human resources professionals in their SAI to provide feedback. This is quite a unique opportunity for bringing together the two sets of experience and skills to ensure that the standards and guidance meet their purpose. I certainly look forward to applying the guidance in my own SAI to assist our learning pathways development.
Find the relevant documents here: https://www.intosaicbc.org/intosaicbchome/competent-people/ or here: https://www.intosaicbc.org/task-force-on-intosai-auditor-professionalisation/.