Strengthening Budget Oversight
Nearly every country in the world has a functional supreme audit institution (SAI) that is mandated with checking whether public funds are being managed properly and in line with sound financial management practices. SAIs have one of the toughest jobs in government: ensuring that powerful politicians, officials, and institutions are held to account. They painstakingly comb the books for evidence of corruption, malfeasance, and ineptitude, reporting on their findings to drive improvements. In this way, SAIs are essential to accountable governance. Yet, as the Open Budget Survey has revealed time and again, SAIs face serious limitations in many countries. Audit reports are withheld from the public, hearings on audit findings take place behind closed doors, and findings are not acted upon. Many of these problems stem from SAIs lacking the requisite independence to do their jobs effectively.
Ultimately, an important indicator of a well-functioning auditing system is that it produces findings that result in positive changes. Our work with leading experts and practitioners from the field of government auditing aims to make government audits more effective in holding politicians, officials, and institutions to account.
- In October 2016, IBP convened a group of leading experts and practitioners from the field of government auditing to discuss how to make audits more impactful. The event brought together luminaries of the auditing world, including the heads and former heads of the supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in India, Kenya, Korea, Nepal, and the Philippines, together with representatives from civil society, academia, bilateral donors, and international development banks. Read a summary of the meeting here.
- In November 2017, IBP convened supreme audit institutions, civil society organizations and development partners to test our hypothesis that improved communication of audit recommendations and enhanced engagement between key oversight actors from within and outside government can promote action on select audit findings that are currently being ignored by governments. In pursuit of the goal of obtaining corrective action from governments on audit findings, we aim to help catalyze relationships among various oversight actors in various countries, including civil society groups, media, and legislators, and to clearly communicate the problems identified by audits and the proposed remedial actions that are needed to address these problems. We intend to document interventions by internal and external stakeholders to address audit recommendations, and lessons on how audits truly become tools for enhancing government accountability.
Publications and Statements
- SAI Leadership and Stakeholder Meeting “Auditing preparedness for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals” (Presentation, July 2017)
- The Rise of the Activist Auditor (Open Budgets Blog, August 2017)
- Philippines’ Commission on Audit Key to Unearthing “Pork Barrel” Scandal (Case Study, October 2016)
- Is India’s Ministry of Coal Effective in Supporting Coal Production? The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Audit of the Coal Industry (Case Study, October 2016)
- Accountability for Safe Train Service in Argentina (Case Study, October 2016)
- Shackled Auditors, Toothless Legislatures: Why Government Oversight is Unable to Deliver Budget Accountability (Open Budgets Blog, June 2016)