XXIII Commonwealth Auditors General Conference, New Delhi
21 – 23 March 2017
The XXIII Conference of Commonwealth Auditors General was hosted by Comptroller and Auditor General of India in New Delhi from 21 to 23 March 2017. The three day Conference was attended by 74 delegates from 36 countries including 25 heads of SAIs. The Conference held discussions under the main theme “Fostering Partnerships for Capacity Development in Public Audit”, in the context of the two sub-themes, namely, “Leveraging technology in public audit” and “Environment audit: A Commonwealth perspective”.
The sub-theme discussions were chaired by Prof. Mussa Juma Assad, Controller & Auditor General of Tanzania and Mr. Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada respectively. Keynote addresses on the two sub-themes were delivered by SAI South Africa and SAI Australia respectively. SAIs of Cayman Islands, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan and United Kingdom presented country paper on their experiences in use of Information technology in audits whereas SAIs of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Malaysia, Pakistan and Zambia shared their experiences in environment audit. SAI India made video presentations on the Data analytics in SAI India and SAI India’s perspective on Environment Audit.
Given that most of the Commonwealth countries follow similar governance structures and share a common working language, the discussions on the two sub-themes reinforced the need for building partnerships among Commonwealth Supreme Audit Institutions for collective benefit.
The Conference observed that most Commonwealth countries have developed basic capacities to undertake audits of information systems. The Conference recognised the opportunity for the Commonwealth Supreme Audit Institutions to share experiences and expertise in all aspects of auditing technology in general, and in the application of data analytics in performance and attest audits in particular.
The Conference noted that all Commonwealth countries were environmentally vulnerable. Since the preparedness of some of these countries to address and mitigate these effects were low, it was noted that the Supreme Audit Institutions in these countries should focus their attention to highlight the risks of ineffective approaches to mitigation to their respective Governments.
Conference also recognised that the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations required mainstreaming of environmental issues in all types of audit. The main concern noted in the audit of environmental matters was the difficulty in evaluating impact of long term Governmental interventions and programmes particularly where there was lack of performance measures. Lack of experienced and trained staff was perceived as another challenge which many Supreme Audit Institutions were faced with.
The Conference also observed that there was appetite within the Commonwealth SAI community for cooperative audits. The Conference recognised the value of cooperative audits, especially between SAIs of contiguous countries, in areas which were of high concern for that region. The Conference encouraged the Commonwealth SAIs to equip their staff with the knowledge and skills required for carrying out effective environment audits.
Considering the important role played by the Commonwealth Auditors General Group in fostering partnerships among Commonwealth SAIs, the Conference agreed that it would be beneficial to:
- Establish a mechanism to communicate the outcomes of the Commonwealth Auditors General Conferences to INTOSAI and regional organizations, especially the relevant working groups on IT, Big Data and Environmental audit.
- Continue working with the Commonwealth Secretariat to foster cooperation with key Commonwealth organisations which may include engagement with the Commonwealth Association of Public Accounts Committee (CAPAC) and other parliamentary groups.
On the concluding day, the heads of delegations also called on the President of India. Besides the discussions in the plenary, many bilateral meetings were also held among member SAIs on the side-lines.
The XXIV Commonwealth Auditors General Conference will be hosted by the Supreme Audit Institution of Fiji in the year 2020.