theresourceinputsintotheauditoffice.Theinterviewscoveredcoreissuesofauditdevelopment,aswellasthe perceptions of participants on several of the wider issues affecting the work of the audit office.The interviews and discussions covered five broad areas, as follows:
The current situation on quality assurance;
Challenges faced in driving up quality;
The involvement [if any] of external stakeholders in the direction of the Audit Office;
Resources for the Audit Office; and,
Institutional arrangements, in particular, the independence of the Auditor General.These five areas formed the basis of the questionnaires applied during the interviews.
Summary of findings and challenges identified
The various challenges noted within this paper have been separated into the categories below to facilitate the process of analysis and explanation.
Challenges within the internal environments of some of the supreme audit institutions.
Challenges within the external environments of some of the supreme audit institutions.
General challenges that cut across the internal and external environments of all four supreme auditinstitutions.
Challenges within the internal environments of some of the supreme audit institutions
Understanding the need for a structured approach to institutional development
- Within two of thesupreme audit institutions, the results showed some evidence of resistance to change that can be linked toweaknesses in the level of appreciation of the value of a structured approach to institutional development. For example,inbothsupremeauditinstitutionstheAuditorsGeneralrecognizedtheneedtomoveawayfromwhatwas called the ‘civil service mentality’, however, there was no real visible strategy in place for achieving thischange.In one instance it was assumed that by achieving an amendment to the current audit act to grant the Auditor General greater independence, change would automatically happen. There was no clear strategy to ensurethat the gains expected from the new act would indeed translate into better quality audit. Although all four supreme audit institutions are pursuing changes in their audit law, only in one supreme audit institution wasa strategy seen for turning the changes in the Audit Act into real change within the Office. This one strategyalso included steps to be taken whether or not the proposed changes to the audit Act actually happened.Overall, there is a need for a better and more structured approach to change management, in particular, astrategy for addressing the various restrainers of change within each particular environment.
Understanding the need for a functional quality assurance unit
- Underpinning the need for a structuredapproach to institutional development is a need for a properly established quality assurance unit within eachsupreme audit institution. Three out of the four supreme audit institutions visited did not have functionalqualityassuranceunitsinplace.Insomeinstances,seniormembersofstaffweretaskedwithqualityassurance,however, it was difficult to find evidence that any assurance processes other than reviews of audit papers werecarried out. Furthermore, the current approach to ‘quality control’ was found to depend on the skills of certainexperienced individuals rather than on any systemic or institutionalized methods of ensuring consistently high26 International Journal on Governmental Financial Management - 2008