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  3. Results are in the making within the EUROSAI project for social utilisation and transparency of public sector audits

Results are in the making within the EUROSAI project for social utilisation and transparency of public sector audits

28. Juni 2018

With the participation of eight supreme audit institutions (SAI), under the leadership of the State Audit Office of Hungary, a project called “Social utilisation and transparency of public sector audits” has been launched within the EUROSAI community. The main objective of the project group established by European SAIs is to lay the foundation for the measurement of the utilisation of the work conducted by SAIs, as well as to promote knowledge sharing amongst them. 

In May 2017, the Xth Congress of EUROSAI approved the new Strategic Plan for 2017-2023, one of the main elements of which is to increase the SAIs’ capacity to react to new challenges and opportunities and to support the capacity development of the institutions. Expressing its commitment, the State Audit Office of Hungary (SAO) set up the social utilisation project group to achieve the aforementioned goal. In accordance with international standards (ISSAI 12, ISSAI 20), the project group will use various methods to find out how the social utilisation of public auditing can be tracked by objective means on the mapped utilisation levels. Seven EUROSAI member SAIs have joined the project so far (Albania, Croatia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Romania and Switzerland).

In order to inform stakeholders of its findings and have real influence on public opinion, SAIs have to improve, innovate their communication constantly, preserving their clarity and informative character.  Recognising the inherent potential in cooperation, the members of the project group look for modern answers to all these challenges.

One of the main goals of the project group is to elaborate a set of suggestions, a practical guidance on how the social utilisation processes of an SAI can be further improved. To achieve this goal we are gathering information via complex questionnaires from the members SAIs of the project group and preparing analyses based on the responses received.

According to a recent questionnaire made within the project group, the most relevant stakeholder for SAIs regarding their social utilisation is the Legislature. Citizens follow as the second most relevant stakeholders, thus leaving the audited entities to the third place. The media follows as the fourth and the Executive (government) is the fifth most relevant. The academic community, professional organisations and special interest groups are still very relevant for most of the SAIs. Business organisations are still relevant, other stakeholders, such as known opinion makers and columnists are less relevant for SAIs.

The answers to the questionnaire clearly showed that the concept of social utilisation has a broad interpretation according to the group members. Every member of the project group believes that it should incorporate the following activities of the SAI: audit reports in a simple and clear manner, communication with relevant stakeholders about audit results, selection of audit topics that represent a key issue in the society. Most of the members agree that the SAI should communicate with its international partners and gather information from them, and also to communicate with relevant stakeholders about its role and responsibilities, that it should be in contact with the media, that follow-up audits should be done to evaluate the implementation of the SAI’s recommendations. Less SAIs highlighted the importance of information gathering, communication about the SAI’s advisory activities and to actively participate in the country’s opinion making and knowledge sharing.

The project on “Social utilisation and transparency of public sector audits” shall last one year. With the involvement of SAIs’ experts from all over Europe, by means of a methodology developed in international environment, the aim of the project group is to be able to measure social utilisation more accurately and successfully.

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