Using cooperative audits as a capacity development method has developed as an active strategy in recent years in OLACEFS as well as in many other INTOSAI regions. Whenever you work with colleagues from another country you have an opportunity to learn from their methods, approaches and experience and to challenge your own way of working. Cooperative audits can contribute to building both SAI capacity and individual professional development.
The EUROSAI-OLACEFS Conference held in Quito, Ecuador on 24-26 June 2015 discussed issues related to the two themes “Coordinated audits” and “SAI’s contribution to Good Governance”. CBC Vice Chair, Mr Magnus Lindell, and Mr Jorge García from SAI Peru, who chairs the CBC Subcommittee on Cooperative Audits, provided the conference with insights on global trends and emerging best practices in cooperative audits.
A survey carried out by SAI Peru shows that, while historically, cooperative audits were often used in environmental audits, SAIs are now using this approach on an increasingly wide variety of audit issues. For example, cooperative audits as an approach is mentioned in discussions on how SAIs can audit the new UN sustainable development goals due to be approved this year. Furthermore, in the Balkans a cooperative audit on the efficiency of energy consumption was recently concluded, in a number of regions international aid initiatives are subject to cooperative audits, and in ASOSAI disaster risk reduction initiatives have been audited.
When the aim of the audit is capacity development we need to not only consider how we can carry out our work professionally and efficiently to deliver a high quality report that is relevant to stakeholders. We also need to consider how a cooperative audit process can support sustainable development within a supreme audit institution. The structured approach of OLACEFS, with training sessions integrated into the audit process, is one very good example of how one can work actively to achieve capacity development through cooperative audits.
There is an emerging international consensus on best practice in working with cooperative audit as capacity development, which builds on the involvement of SAI management throughout the process. Only SAI management can ensure that individuals who are learning new methods and approaches in a cooperative audit are given a mandate and a responsibility to share those lessons learned in a way that will start turning individual capacity into organizational capabilities.
Another important component of ensuring that the organization, and not only individual staff members, develops, is to rely on and support the SAI’s own systems and processes for quality control and quality assurance throughout the audit process. Among other things, ISSAI 5800 on Cooperative Audits emphasizes the importance of following the usual sequence of the audit process. The ISSAI also encourages sharing of lessons learned between participating SAIs throughout the audit process. As such, the cooperative audit process can provide ample learning opportunities and a bit of positive peer pressure to deliver your best possible work.
Update: Review of ISSAI 5800
ISSAI 5800 on Cooperative Audits was developed by the CBC Subcommittee on Cooperative Audits in order to have a framework governing different types of cooperative audits – joint, parallel and coordinated. The ISSAI is currently under revision and was subject to an exposure draft in 2013. In an annex, the ISSAI now includes examples of cooperative audits within the INTOSAI Community and links to report files. These reports will also be available in the document library of the CBC website.
The ISSAI is due for approval by the CBC Steering Committee in September 2015 and then by the INTOSAI Governing Board for subsequent endorsement by INCOSAI in the United Arab Emirates in 2016.