Making the connection
One session of the latest annual meeting of the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee was dedicated to presenting examples of peer-to-peer co-operation. Together with Albanian colleagues, we, the Polish SAI, presented the development of the very good working relations between our two SAIs, which gained momentum in 2015, when we started implementing an EU-funded twinning project. The project was aimed at strengthening external audit in Albania.
Our SAIs are members of both INTOSAI and EUROSAI, and representatives of our institutions have been meeting regularly at the Congresses for a long time. However, you always need this tiny element that triggers a closer collaboration. This triggering moment took place in 2011, when, upon the appointment of the new Chairman of the Albanian SAI, I decided to send him a congratulatory letter. In his reply, Mr Leskaj very precisely defined the capacity building needs of his office. This is how, I can proudly say, our friendly rapport kicked off.
The twinning project was carried out in the partnership with colleagues from the Croatian SAI, whom we know very well from several joint EUROSAI initiatives. Our experts responsible for the development of the IT-audit methodology invited experts from the Portuguese and Estonian SAIs, whom they knew from the EUROSAI Working Group on Information Technologies. We also worked closely with colleagues from the Dutch SAI, renowned for their expertise in performance audit.
In this specific case, the relations between the participating SAIs were developed within the EUROSAI. However, my diagnosis also refers to INTOSAI and all its other regional organisations: they all create innumerable possibilities of networking.
INTOSAI and its regional organisations are like airline alliances. When you travel a lot, you hardly ever choose the same airline, as none of them can offer you flights that suit your plans each time. They work together in alliances in order to arrange connections that suit their passengers.
I have been involved in the activities of INTOSAI and its European Regional Organisation for many years. My colleagues from the Polish SAI have participated in a number of initiatives in these fora and we recall some of them long after their completion. What contributed to their success? In my opinion, the answer is mainly how people networked before, during and after the project or event.
Since 2014, EUROSAI has been regularly organising YES conferences (Young EUROSAI). These gatherings address younger staff of our institutions. The age limit defines the profile of the participants – relatively newly recruited staff, for most of them the first event in which they meet colleagues from their counterpart foreign institutions. They organise workshops and sessions during the conference. I know that each edition of the conference has created informal networks of contacts, through which people are still in touch, share their opinions, consult and seek advice. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
In October 2018, the Polish SAI organised a meeting for people responsible for methodology development in the European SAIs. During the event people discussed questions of audit quality, audit planning and communication with stakeholders. In order to provide for a platform for continuous future networking, we organised workshops and brainstorming sessions. Let’s keep fingers crossed that this will lead to the intended networks!
Many bilateral and multilateral initiatives are rooted in the working groups and task forces of INTOSAI and its regional structures. During their meetings, I personally witnessed how people interested in a co-operative audit, deeper analysis and comparative study created an informal network to make these things happen.
These networks of connections, relations, exchanges of knowledge and best practices create a huge potential of building a solid basis for successful and effective capacity development initiatives, based on actual needs, and providing realistic solutions. So – let’s network!