A Story from Thailand and Laos: Improving Auditing Skills through peer-to-peer learning in ASEAN Supreme Audit Institutions (ASEANSAI)

Article by Birthe Meyer, GIZ.

Supported by the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of Thailand and Laos committed to closely work together to tackle the individual challenges of one SAI. With the goal to lay the foundations in financial audit of junior auditors in SAI Laos, a focus was put on integrating the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI), using the training methodologies developed by the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI). The cooperation between SAI Laos and Thailand lasted from February 2017 to June 2018, titled “Support to Financial Audit for the State Audit Organization of Lao PDR” Trilateral Cooperation (TriCo) project. It was the first programmatic SAI-to-SAI cooperation within ASEAN, offering tailored support to one SAI by building on existing knowledge in the region.

As a more experienced audit office, the SAI Thailand supported the significantly younger SAI Laos in achieving three goals:

Strengthening

1) the skills of trainers in SAI Laos to design, develop and deliver training courses on financial audit, using professional facilitation skills,

2) the skills of SAI Laos junior financial auditors to conduct audits according to international audit standards (ISSAIs), and

3) the skills of the Training Institute staff of SAI Laos in successfully planning and organizing trainings.

After almost 2 years and 11 conducted activities, this pilot of SAI-to-SAI cooperation has officially come to an end on 5th September 2018. A final Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting was conducted at the SAI Laos’ office, to officially close and evaluate the project. Following, a storytelling activity gave participants from Laos and Thailand the opportunity to share their individual stories of how the project impacted them personally and their work as auditors.

The Lao participants spoke about their individual learnings from five training courses, one in basic accounting and four courses in financial audit, completed by a two weeks secondment program to SAI Thailand. The secondment program aimed at knowledge sharing between SAI Thailand and Laos in developing and managing a training institute and at learning about challenges of applying the ISSAIs in developing training courses.

The participants of the storytelling event also shared their personal highlights of friendship and cultural exchange as results of this intense project process. One participant said: “One of the main project highlights for me is that participants from Laos and Thailand were able to understand the documents in Lao and Thai language, so we were able to work with each other without translation or interpretation”.

The story about the partnership between SAI Laos and SAI Thailand for improving auditing skills through peer-to-peer learning in ASEANSAI has been documented and published as storybook, available in English, Thai and Lao. The book was developed with the consultation and contribution of many experts, trainers, auditors and coordinators who were involved in the project, and was supported by the German project Support to ASEANSAI, implemented by GIZ. It is hoped that this success story can highlight the benefits of SAI-to-SAI cooperation and regional knowledge sharing, under the umbrella of the organization of Supreme Audit Institutions in ASEAN (ASEANSAI), and potentially spark further peer-learning processes among SAIs to build capacity and professionalism for more impactful auditing.

The storybook in English can be downloaded via the link below:

https://www.giz.de/en/downloads/GIZ_ASEANSAI_Story%20Book_Eng-version_20180914.pdf