Purpose and objectives

The purpose of this document is to advance principles of transparency and accountability for SAIs in order to assist them in leading by example in their own governance and practices. SAIs form part of an overall legal and constitutional system within their respective countries, and are accountable to various parties, including legislative bodies and the public. SAIs are also responsible for planning and conducting the scope of their work and using proper methodologies and standards to ensure that they promote accountability and transparency over public activities, meet their legal mandate and fulfil their responsibilities in a complete and objective manner.

A major challenge facing all SAIs is to promote a better understanding of their different roles and tasks in society among the public and the administration. Consistent with their mandates and governing legal frameworks, information about SAIs should therefore be readily accessible and pertinent. Their work processes, activities and products should be transparent. They should also communicate openly with the media and other interested parties and be visible in the public arena.

This document forms an integral part of the INTOSAI Framework of Professional Pronouncements and the principles are intended to be used in conjunction with those pronouncements.

SAIs operate under different mandates and models. These principles may not be equally applicable to all SAIs, but are intended to lead SAIs towards a common goal of transparency and accountability.

Concepts of accountability and transparency

The rule of law and democracy are essential foundations for independent and accountable government auditing and serve as the pillars on which the Lima Declaration is founded. Independence, accountability and transparency of SAIs are essential prerequisites in a democracy based on the rule of law and enable SAIs to lead by example and enhance their credibility.

Accountability and transparency are two important elements of good governance. Transparency is a powerful force that, when consistently applied, can help fight corruption, improve governance and promote accountability.

Accountability and transparency are not easily separated: they both encompass many of the same actions, for instance, public reporting.

The concept of accountability refers to the legal and reporting framework, organisational structure, strategy, procedures and actions to help ensure that:

  • SAIs meet their legal obligations with regard to their audit mandate and required reporting within their budget.
  • SAIs evaluate and follow up their own performance as well as the impact of their audit.
  • SAIs report on the regularity and the efficiency of the use of public funds, including their own actions and activities and the use of SAI resources.
  • the head of the SAI, members (of collegial institutions) and the SAI’s personnel can be held responsible for their actions.

The notion of transparency refers to the SAI’s timely, reliable, clear and relevant public reporting on its status, mandate, strategy, activities, financial management, operations and performance. In addition, it includes the obligation of public reporting on audit findings and conclusions and public access to information about the SAI.

INTOSAI ref. Principles of Transparency and Accountability(pdf) (ISSAI-P 20).
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