Making A Difference In The Performance Of SAIs


Performance Audit Prize Terms of Reference

 

Performance audit is one of the strategic imperatives of AFROSAI-E. To promote the development of performance audit, AFROSAI-E launched the Prize for the Best Performance Audit Report of the year in cooperation with the Swedish National Audit Office. The purpose of the Prize is to promote high quality performance audit reports and to share experiences and acknowledge the efforts of performance auditors in the region.

The Prize will be announced and handed over to the winning SAI at the AFROSAI-E Governing Board meeting in May.

 

A maximum of two reports can be nominated from each SAI

Each SAI in the AFROSAI-E region is invited to nominate a maximum of two performance audit reports for the Prize. There are no restrictions on what topics the reports may address, irrespective of whether similar topics have been addressed by previous reports.

The reports must be nominated by the Auditor-General and be submitted to AFROSAI-E Senior Performance Audit Manager, Christina Sand, by 31 December at christina@afrosai-e.org.za.

 

Qualification requirements

  1. The report must be written in- or translated in full into English.
  2. A report may only be submitted once to be considered for the Prize. It must be published between 1 January – 31 December.
  3. The report must have been tabled or presented formally to the legislature in accordance with the SAI’s mandate. If the report has not yet been tabled, the version submitted for the prize should be the final version that will be made public. The SAI should acknowledge that this version may become public once the prize has been issued. Therefore, it is not recommended to submit a report for the Prize if it has not yet been tabled.
  4. The data used and presented in the report should be as recent as possible. If recent data is not available, an explanation of why recent data is not available, and steps taken by the SAI to get recent data should be mentioned in the report.
  5. The entire report must have been written by staff employed by the SAI. However, inputs from subject matter experts and review from external bodies are allowed (e.g. experts or facilitators at module courses etc.).
  6. The format of the audit report must correspond with requirements from ISSAI 300:39, 3000:106. The report should contain information about the audit objective, criteria, methodology, sources of data and audit findings, conclusions and, if appropriate, recommendations.

There are no formal requirements regarding the size of the audit team, but a maximum of three team members can be awarded. Supervisors and managers cannot be awarded unless they were full team members on the audit.

SAIs deciding to compete for the Prize with a report that has not yet been made public have to be aware that the winning report will be made public on the AFROSAI-E website after the Governing Board meeting in May.

The submission letter must be signed by the Auditor General or acting Auditor General to provide assurance that the nominated report(s) meet the qualification criteria. The letter should also include the following information for each report:

  • The letter must present the names of a maximum of three auditors for each report who, if the report is selected as the best, will be awarded.
  • The production time of the audit report.
  • The start dates of the pre-study and main study.
  • The date of signature by the Auditor General.

If this information is not included in the submission letter the report could be disqualified from the competition. 

Confirmation that the report has been received will be sent. SAIs that do not receive a confirmation should contact the Secretariat to find out if there were technical problems in transferring the reports.

 

Assessment of qualification requirements

The Senior Performance Audit Manager of AFROSAI-E will assess nominated reports to meet the qualification requirements, see above.

Reports that do not meet these requirements will not be further assessed. The Senior Performance Audit Manager will inform SAIs about reports that met the formal requirements and were handed over to the jury. The decision by the AFROSAI-E Senior Performance Audit Manager on whether a report meets the requirements is final and cannot be appealed.

The Secretariat will not be involved in assessing the quality of reports.

 

Evaluation of the reports by an independent review team

The quality of the performance audit reports will be assessed by an international review team, with a maximum of four members. The review team consists of a chairman from the Swedish National Audit Office and three members from SAI Netherlands, SAI Norway and SAI United Kingdom.

If an audit report questions the merits of political objectives, and this significantly influences the report, the jury will not make any further assessment of the report. The SAI will in such a case be informed about the reasons for the jury’s decision.

The review team will conduct its assessment solely on the basis of the performance audit reports. No other material such as pre-studies or audit files will be considered. The jury may ask questions for clarification to the audit teams, but should not allow any other influences.

The review team will assess all reports against the following criteria and comment on the reports’ performance on each criteria. The criteria are further explained below. The criteria are based on the International Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI).

  1. Auditors should consider materiality in all stages of the audit process. (ISSAI 300:33, 3000:83). AFROSAI-E emphasizes reports that gives added value, not only to financial, but also social and/or political aspects of the subject matter.
  2. The audit report should be comprehensive, convincing, timely, reader-friendly and balanced. (ISSAI 300 38-39, 3000:116). AFROSAI-E accentuates these characteristics as specifically important for a good quality audit report. The aspects should be assessed using the relevant explanations from ISSAI 3000.
  3. In performance audit, the auditors’ report their findings on the economy and efficiency (of the use of resources) and the effectiveness with which objectives are met.  (ISSAI 300:11, 300:39, 3000:17-20, 3100) . The audits should provide new information, knowledge, value and analysis or insights. (ISSAI 300:10). AFROSAI-E underlines that audits should include an analysis of conditions connected to the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Audits should go further than mere compliance with existing legislation and regulations, thus providing new insights to the subject matter.
  4. The report should include conclusions in response to the audit objectives and questions. If relevant and allowed by the SAI mandate, auditors should seek to provide constructive recommendations that are likely to contribute significantly to addressing the weaknesses or problems identified by the audit. (ISSAI 300:38-40, 3000:106). AFROSAI-E stresses that audits should have conclusions that clearly respond to the audit objective. Recommendations (if appropriate) should be constructive, addressing the accountable entity, and be possible to accomplish.
  5. Production time counted from the entry conference or start of the pre-study to the approval of the Auditor General by signing the final report.

In addition to the requirements from ISSAIs, AFROSAI-E wants to promote effective audit processes, thus the requirement of production time has been added to the quality requirements. AFROSAI-E emphasizes that audits should be timely and ideally not exceed a 12-month production time.


Other matters

In its assessment, the review team will consider the development of public administration and the increased quality of performance auditing in the AFROSAI-E region. 

The review team shall comment on each report to each SAI according to the criteria. All criteria should be covered by the feedback. The objective of this confidential feedback is to be constructive and clearly point out areas for improvement of the report. With this feedback the SAIs can see more specifically which performance audit dimensions that the report needs to be strengthened in. 

If the report questions the merits of political objectives, and it significantly influences the report in their opinion, the jury will not make any further assessment.

The decision by the review team to award the Prize is final and without the option for appeal.

 

Award

The review team will select one winner as the best performance audit report in the AFROSAI-E region for the year. The review team will motivate its decision in writing and make the motivation for the winning report public. The review team may award honourable mention of other reports and teams. The review team will also submit written comments to the AFROSAI-E Secretariat, on all other reports assessed, using the quality criteria above. These comments will be presented to the nominating SAI, but will not be made public. 

The Prize will be awarded to a maximum of three auditors. The award for the winning team is a visit to the Swedish NAO and agencies/institutions connected to the audit area of the winning report. This award includes one week’s deployment to the Swedish NAO where travel fees, hotel costs and expenses for meals will be paid according to Swedish regulations. During such deployment the winners will share experiences with peers and are expected to present their report to peers in Swedish NAO.

 

Further information

If you require more information, please contact the Senior Performance Audit Manager at AFROSAI-E, Christina Sand at Christina@afrosai-e.org.za