UN Member States discussed the independent oversight role of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in implementing the post-2015 development agenda.
21 January 2015: UN Member States discussed the independent oversight role of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in implementing the post-2015 development agenda.
Organized by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Morocco, and the Republic of Korea, as well as the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the panel discussion took place on 21 January 2015, in New York, US.
Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria, opened the discussion by highlighting the resolution on ‘Promoting and fostering the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening SAIs’ (A/C.2/69/L.25/Rev.1), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 19 December 2014. Through the resolution, he noted, the UNGA acknowledges the role of SAIs in fostering governmental accountability for the use of resources and their performance in achieving development goals.
Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD 3), noted that SAIs will play an important role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He highlighted three aspects: SAI s will need to continue strengthening their traditional financial functions to ensure that governmental resources are allocated and spent for the well-being of the people; SAIs will need to further enhance their overall role to ensure that they are performing effectively; and the international community must help developing countries with capacity building for strengthening their SAIs. Wu encouraged Member States to highlight the role of SAIs both in the FfD 3 outcome document and in the declaration of the post-2015 development agenda.
Josef Moser, Secretary-General of INTOSAI, identified obstacles for SAIs: the lack of legal, financial, and organizational independence of SAIs from governments; the lack of a comprehensive mandate to audit governments’ performance; the lack of possibility to provide formal audit opinions on government accounts because of shortcomings; and the fact that not all SAIs are legally allowed to publicly report on their audit findings. He highlighted solutions including: ensuring the independence of SAIs; capacity building; improving the accounting systems; modernizing the budgeting processes towards an outcome-oriented budgeting, which could provide a more realistic and fair view of the state budgets; and improving and harmonizing the public accounting systems. He further added that SAIs could contribute to the monitoring and accountability framework for SDGs by determining whether public resources have been used efficiently, and indicating mistakes made and ways to avoid them.
The panel discussion will be followed by the 23rd UN/INTOSAI symposium on 2-4 March 2015, in Vienna, Austria. The overall theme of the symposium will be ‘Means of Implementation for the Post-2015 Development Agenda: the Role of SAIs in Sustainable Development and Enhancing Accountability,’ and the event will consider new capacities needed for SAIs to enhance their role. [IISD Reporting Sources] [Meeting Summary]