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Tribunal de Contas da União

INTOSAI: TCU works to expand the international integration of Supreme Audit Institutions

In 2023, the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) focused on enhancing communication, relationships, and partnerships within the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
Por Secom TCU

Ahead of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) has been actively engaged in expanding the international presence of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). Strengthening the global voice of INTOSAI is a key priority for Brazil's term as INTOSAI Chair, which extends until 2025.

The strategy to communicate the values, independence, and results of SAIs worldwide involves initiatives aimed at reinforcing institutional relationships and enhancing communication effectiveness between INTOSAI and SAIs, and international organizations and society. 

Throughout 2023, the President of TCU and Chair of INTOSAI, Minister Bruno Dantas, along with high-level officials, leaders, and auditors from the Court, participated in seminars, meetings, and conferences on topics relevant to the international community of government audit. A significant aspect of TCU's first year at the helm of INTOSAI was the closer collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Dantas evaluates the outcomes positively for INTOSAI, the Court of Accounts, and Brazil. 

"We have been working to strengthen the relationships and position of audit institutions worldwide, and international cooperation has proven to be a powerful tool to achieve this goal. In the first year, we witnessed the benefits of this cooperation: sharing knowledge, learning from the experiences of other countries, and laying the foundations to develop joint solutions for the challenges faced by SAIs worldwide. This has contributed to strengthening global governance and promoting transparency and accountability in the use of public resources," assesses Dantas. 

To reinforce and bring visibility of INTOSAI’s strategic position, Minister Dantas launched the “Letter from the Chair of INTOSAI”, a monthly communication channel designed to engaging audit institutions with insightful messages for the international community. 

In 2023, the communications encompassed diverse subjects such as budgetary credibility, the role of SAIs in overseeing policies addressing hunger and poverty, the challenges posed by global warming and climate change, the significance of the digital transformation of governments, and the responsibilities of SAIs within this evolving landscape. In its first letter of 2024, disseminated to SAIs in early January, delves into the pivotal role of audit institutions concerning immigrants, refugees, and stateless individuals. 

The subjects covered in the communications in 2023 included budgetary credibility, the role of SAIs in auditing policies to alleviate hunger and poverty, the challenge of global warming and climate change, the role of SAIs in addressing the challenges of digital transformation of governments. The first letter of 2024, shared with SAIs in early January, addresses the role of audit institutions in the issue of immigrants, refugees, and stateless individuals.

Sustainability: INTOSAI reinforces actions on climate change and energy transition

Given the relevance of the topic and its global impact, INTOSAI has been actively working on several fronts on sustainability. The primary initiative is the ClimateScanner, a TCU-led tool designed to analyse and monitor government actions related to climate change.  

In July 2023, the ClimateScanner Executive Group met in Foz do Iguaçu (PR) to present the first version of the tool's development methodology. Throughout the year, the project was rigorously assessed through evaluations, meetings, and workshops, culminating in the finalization of the methodology design in November. The ClimateScanner tool was presented in December at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

In August 2023, a research project focused on issues related to extractive industries (WGEI), was showcased at the congress of the INTOSAI Working Group (WG). The project, which is currently in the data consolidation phase, aims to assess the efforts in energy transition undertaken by SAIs that constitute the WG. 

The study, coordinated by the TCU, aims to map regional and global trends associated with the impacts of energy transition on extractive industries, in countries that are members of the WGEI. It will also examine how SAIs assess government actions on this subject. The findings of this study will be instrumental in planning the WG’s activities and identifying opportunities for collaboration among SAIs. Furthermore, it will help pinpoint training needs and establish a benchmark for the efforts made by each member in energy transition. 

To assist SAIs in providing relevant responses to the need for government efforts to adapt to climate change, the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) and the INTOSAI Environmental Auditing Working Group (WGEA) launched a global cooperative audit involving 48 SAIs from all regions of the planet. 

The IDI, which proposed the work during the XXIV International Congress of Supreme Audit Institutions (INCOSAI), initiated a comprehensive training program in September 2023 for the participating teams, equipping them to operate across five thematic areas. The TCU is participating in the cooperative audit in three areas: disaster risk reduction, water resource management, and the implementation of plans or actions to adapt to climate change. 

Equity: INTOSAI’s Actions for a More Equal and Inclusive Future

In November 2023, the TCU Exchange Program in Audit and Government Management (ProInter-TCU) was launched, featuring a special edition focused on Women in Leadership. This initiative convened 15 female auditors holding leadership roles within the Organization of the Supreme Audit Institutions of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (OISC/CPLP) 

The exchange program fostered a dynamic interchange of experiences and insights in the fields of human rights, equity, diversity, inclusion, leadership, and gender-sensitive budgeting. A key objective of the project is to disseminate best practices within the administrative areas of audit institutions, with a particular emphasis on the execution of recommendations stemming from the gender and non-discrimination policy of the Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Supreme Audit Institutions (OLACEFS). 

Another initiative related to the theme is the "Equal Futures Audit Changemakers" program of the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI). This program is dedicated to enhancing the capacity development of auditors who act as transformative agents in pursuit of a more equal and inclusive future, considering aspects such as poverty, gender, age, disability, ethnicity, migration, and the intersectionality of these elements.

Technical meetings of the initiative were held throughout 2023. The program involves auditors from 15 countries: Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Kosovo, Maldives, Mauritania, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Serbia, Thailand, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu. The initiative will result in the development of the external control strategy and the implementation of an audit in each SAI regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion issues. At the TCU, the chosen theme for the audit is “harassment in Federal Education Institutions”.

Closer engagement with relevant stakeholders for government audit

The year 2023 was crucial for partnerships with organizations of international repute. In July, INTOSAI played a significant role in the launching of the manual that elucidates the contribution of SAIs to strengthening countries' budgetary credibility through government audits. The material was produced by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in collaboration with INTOSAI. The manual explains the importance of budget credibility and good financial management, providing examples of audits related to budget and performance of management systems. 

In September, INTOSAI and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a technical cooperation agreement for joint action in the areas of climate, gender equality, digital transformation, and development financing. The partnership focuses on implementing joint activities, including the institutional strengthening of INTOSAI until 2025, a period during which Brazil will be leading the group. 

Strengthening INTOSAI and advocating for the Independence of SAIs

In November 2023, Minister Bruno Dantas met with authorities from Montenegro and Poland to discuss the importance of preserving the independence of audit institutions. To assist audit institutions in responding to potential threats to independence, IDI created the SAI Independence Rapid Advocacy Mechanism (SIRAM). SIRAM is INTOSAI’s official tool to address threats and violations to the principle of independence, providing support to SAIs in facing challenges and risks to autonomy. 

Late 2022, SAI Montenegro activated the SIRAM tool due to political interference related to external audit work. In 2021, the Polish SAI had already requested the use of SIRAM to discuss alleged threats to Poland's constitutional order and the auditing institution. 

In the same month, during the 77th Meeting of the Governing Board of INTOSAI, the creation of the Center for Advanced Studies (CASt) within the structure of the Supervisory Committee on Emerging Issues (SCEI) was approved. CASt will connect SAIs and academia through scholarships for research projects and visiting programs, solidifying knowledge and best practices in auditing. 

Another topic of discussion was the establishment of JuriSAI, an organization committed to advancing the jurisdictional activities of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) on a global scale. It is anticipated that JuriSAI will be formally integrated into the structure of INTOSAI by 2025. At the same meeting, the Governing Board approved the communication strategy and the creation of NICO (Network of INTOSAI Communication Officers). The initiatives discussed will enhance and strengthen the organization's structure thereby amplifying its role in the world.

Digital Transformation

In 2023, the presidencies of INTOSAI and OLACEFS launched a collaborative effort to develop a digital transformation pilot program with the support of IDI and partners such as the World Bank, UNDP, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and German Cooperation (GIZ).  

The goal is to accelerate the technological modernization of SAIs within OLACEFS. This includes developing teams of professionals with expertise in the use of information and communication technologies in auditing activities to foster the exchange of knowledge and best practices permanently. 

The program is structured in two main phases: diagnosis and implementation. The diagnostic phase is scheduled to take place in 2024 and will identify the current development stage of the institutions, based on tools and methodologies developed and tested by the INTOSAI community and partners. 

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