Quality and excellence are rarely achieved spontaneously; they need to be managed into the organisation and should be based on continuous improvement. It is vital that a SAI operates at high, even excellent quality. The SAIs ´reputation is based on the quality of their output. SAIs can only achieve respect and authority if they can demonstrate they are managed to high standards. The CBC and its Subcommittees activities help to achieve excellence. The INTOSAI community should use peer review, among other tools, for the sake of its balanced and continuous development.
The CBC Subcommittee for Peer Review continues to map, assess and promote the best practices and quality assurance through voluntary peer reviews also according to the Joint Work Plan arising from the Annual CBC Meeting held in Lima, Peru, 9-11 September 2014. In the document, Goal 6 is set as to Support verification of capacity development efforts (peer and/or self-assessments using ISSAI 5600 etc.). The Initiative 6.2 details it as to Continue to assess and document existing peer review arrangements in the INTOSAI community and disseminate the results of peer reviews.
The SAI of Slovakia conducts yearly an e-mail survey on peer reviews within the INTOSAI community. In 2014, the survey questionnaires were sent to and received by 170 INTOSAI members. This year, in the second half of January 2015, the questionnaire was sent and received via e-mail by all INTOSAI members listed at the INTOSAI membership list on its website (eg. 193 SAIs excluding SAI of Slovakia) less 10 SAIs that couldn´t be delivered the mail for various reasons. Also the INTOSAI General Secretariat, Regional Working Group secretariats and supranational organisations IDI and OECD (as INTOSAI partners), were among mail recipients.
The mail to the INTOSAI members contained a letter by the SAI of Slovakia President Ján Jasovský addressed to all SAIs heads, where he underlined the importance of the peer reviews; he highlighted one item in the questionnaire enquiring about possibility if the recipient SAI would be interested to be put into the list of potential reviewing SAI. The ultimate aim of this is to create a pool of potential peer reviewers that could be easily contacted by the SAI that wishes to undertake peer review. Such “matchmaking” could facilitate especially the peer review preparation stages but could also serve in wider context.
In order to lead by example, SAI of Slovakia President in his letter also offered its capacity to become the reviewing SAI to the interested SAI. The details of any peer review engagement, of course, would be précised after initial contacts and exchanged basic information at the later stage by all involved. The SAI of Slovakia also embarked on the SAI of Latvia peer review as the lead along the SAI of USA, Netherlands, Poland, Denmark and European Court of Audit. This peer review is to be finished by July 2015.
Peer reviews provide benefits to all participants; help to hold a mirror to the SAI audit processes and overall activities. Peer review brings changes, but as M. Ghandí said:” Be the change you want to see in the world”. The results of the peer review survey are to be presented to INTOSAI community on CBC website in May 2015.
By Imrich Gál, SAI Slovakia