Preamble

  1. Public sector auditing, as championed by the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), is an important factor in making a difference to the lives of citizens. The auditing of government and public sector entities by SAIs has a positive impact on trust in society because it focuses the minds of the custodians of public resources on how well they use those resources. Such awareness supports desirable values and underpins accountability mechanisms, which in turn leads to improved decisions. Once SAIs’ audit results have been made public, citizens are able to hold the custodians of public resources accountable. In this way SAIs promote the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration1. An independent, effective and credible SAI is therefore an essential component in a democratic system where accountability, transparency and integrity are indispensable parts of a stable democracy.
  2. In a democracy, structures are created and elected representatives are empowered to implement the will of the people and act on their behalf through legislative and executive bodies. A risk to be considered with public sector institutions in a democracy is that power and resources can be mismanaged or misused, leading to an erosion of trust that can undermine the essence of the democratic system. It is therefore critical that the citizens of a country are able to hold their representatives accountable. Democratically elected representatives can only be held accountable if they, in turn, can hold accountable those who implement their decisions. Consistent with the spirit of the Lima Declaration an important component of the accountability cycle is an independent, effective and credible SAI to scrutinise the stewardship and use of public resources.
  3. Acting in the public interest places a further responsibility on SAIs to demonstrate their ongoing relevance to citizens, Parliament and other stakeholders2. SAIs can show their relevance by appropriately responding to the challenges of citizens, the expectations of different stakeholders, and the emerging risks and changing environments in which audits are conducted. Furthermore, it is important that SAIs have a meaningful and effective dialogue with stakeholders about how their work facilitates improvement in the public sector. This enables SAIs to be a credible source of independent and objective insight, supporting beneficial change in the public sector.
  4. To be able to fulfil their functions and ensure their potential value to citizens, SAIs need to be seen as trustworthy. SAIs only deserve trust if they themselves are objectively judged as being credible, competent and independent and can be held accountable for their operations. In order to make this possible, they need to be model institutions, setting an example from which others in the public sector and the auditing profession at large can learn.
  5. The principles set out in this document are constructed around the fundamental expectation of SAIs making a difference to the lives of citizens. The extent to which a SAI is able to make a difference to the lives of citizens depends on the SAI:
    1. Strengthening the accountability, transparency and integrity of government and public sector entities;
    2. Demonstrating ongoing relevance to citizens, Parliament and other stakeholders; and
    3. Being a model organisation through leading by example.
  6. SAIs operate under different mandates and models. However, these objectives and principles are intended for SAIs to strive towards and to enable all SAIs to communicate and promote the value and benefits that they can bring to democracy and accountability in their respective jurisdictions. The principles apply equally to SAI staff and those who undertake work on behalf of the SAIs3. SAIs are encouraged to apply them and assess their compliance with such provisions in a manner that is most appropriate for their respective environments.

Annexure A

The extent to which a SAI is able to make a difference to the lives of citizens depends on the SAI:

The extent to which a Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) is able to make a difference to the lives of citizens

Annexure B

The 12 principles of the value and benefits of SAIs under each of the three objectives are:

The 12 principles of the value and benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) under each of three objectives

INTOSAI ref. The Value and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions(pdf) (ISSAI-P 12).
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