Good practice for structuring supreme audit institutions
This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union.
Please provide us with some good practice models for structuring an effective and non-partisan national auditing body. What would the structure look like, what should the profile of the staff be, and how would it interact with other branches of government?
1. Key characteristics of Supreme Audit Institutions
2. Coordination and cooperation between Supreme Audit Institutions and other public institutions
3. Country examples of good practice Supreme Audit Institutions
Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are the main public sector audit organisation in a country in charge of overseeing the overall management of public finances, and play an important role in the fight against corruption by helping to detect misuse of public resources. Country examples tend to indicate that factors such as institutional, financial and functional independence, integrity, transparency in the appointment and removal of auditors, level of resources (both in terms of financial resources and qualified staff) and effective reporting mechanisms have a major impact on the effectiveness of such institutions. SAIs also need to be supported by an enabling legal and institutional environment, including public access to information. Scandinavian countries as well as Slovenia, Latvia and Germany are usually referred to as demonstrating ‘best practice’ when it comes to Supreme Audit Organisations.
Moreover, coordination between SAIs and other institutions involved in anti-corruption-related activities, including those of other legal enforcement institutions and internal control entities, is essential. While best practices on how an SAI should be structured, organised and operated have been documented in the literature to a certain extent, less is known about effective models of coordination and cooperation between external audit institutions, internal control entities and anti-corruption agencies. Countries such as Bulgaria, Brazil and Indonesia have tried different approaches aimed at fostering cooperation and coordination among these institutions. However, such initiatives strongly depend on political will to be effective.
Maíra Martini, Transparency International, [email protected]