Other Relevant Stakeholders

Advancing SAIs´ openness does not exclusively imply creating bridges with CSOs and the general public. It is also necessary to implement coordination strategies and dialogue with other relevant actors to elicit a response to the audit findings.

The Parliament

Interaction between SAIs and Parliaments

Interaction between SAIs and parliaments is usually determined by the management guidelines of the entity, whether planning formal occasions in which the parliaments define their authority figures and establish future audits or when SAIs reveal the results of their reports and provide explanations of their measures before the legislative branch.

Nonetheless, there are reasons to promote other interaction channels that may go beyond such formal instances. The information that SAIs produce should not only endow Parliament with control over good administration of public resources, but it also has the potential to be a fundamental contribution for public policy planners within the different government branches.

On the other hand, SAIs can seek to validate their different outreach strategies by means of the parliament, whether producing guidelines that remove formal obstacles for advancement or promoting outreach practices developed for the public to be combined with the efforts from parliament.

Identifying the key groups that are committed to these challenges within Parliament is the first task that SAIs should aim for if they want to promote and articulate their outreach practices with the Legislative system. Increasing Parliament´s ownership of SAI products is constantly needed to support the fulfillment of its mission, and it is also an essential condition to develop productive interaction.

How can the interaction between parliaments and SAIs be improved to enhance public accountability?

Social demands for accountability and transparency can be fulfilled more effectively through strong interconnection between SAIs and parliaments. Creating jointly coordinated outreach opportunities for the public can significantly strengthen the meaning and potential of this particular civic participation.

The parliament should inform society about the way through which public oversight policies developed by SAIs act as input for the compliance of their duties. It should also explain to society how Parliament should promote and facilitate the work of such horizontal accountability agencies by providing them with budget, capacities, and duties.

At the same time, SAIs should inform on the partnerships that are established with the parliament and its various offices to increase the reach of public oversight that is carried out.

SAIs and parliaments should ultimately coordinate their efforts, with the objective of generating opportunities, where possible, to jointly absorb the various civic demands and for which approval depends on the articulation between both bodies.

The Court of Audit of Slovenia submits its reports to the Parliamentary Commission for Public Finance Control—a parliamentary committee headed by members of opposition deputy groups—and provides recommendations and guidelines for how to communicate with auditees. Also, the president of the SAI assesses the chair of this commission regarding which reports should be discussed within the commission, and the latter can propose to go over individual reports at the National Assembly and prepare draft decisions for adoption by that body. It is important to note that this system regulating cooperation between the court and the commission has been possibly bolstered by donor assistance, as exemplified by the 2004–2008 EU PHARE Program Twinning Project with the United Kingdom NAO, titled Strengthening Parliamentary Supervision of Public Finances Auditing.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) commissions periodic surveys to measure its performance in meeting the needs of parliamentarians and to identify opportunities for improving its service to Parliament. The survey endeavors to obtain constructive feedback on the performance of the ANAO in meeting the needs and expectations of members of parliament, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, and other parliamentary committees; identify measures that could be implemented to enhance the ANAO relationship with Parliament; and increase awareness within Parliament of the ANAO product range and services.

Since 2000, the ANAO has been delivering those surveys, which are completed through a face-to-face interview with a senior research consultant and a senior ANAO officer during one of the parliamentary sitting periods, in a telephone interview with a senior research consultant, or by completion of a hard-copy questionnaire.

Broadly, the 2011 survey found that ANAO officials were rated highly by parliamentarians and parliamentary committee secretaries for their accessibility, responsiveness, and the extent to which advice or information provided addressed their needs. Survey respondents also valued the work of the ANAO, with many remarking that the ANAO played a vital role in keeping government agencies accountable. Moreover, respondents considered that the ANAO produces high-quality products, is independent and nonpartisan, and has integrity as an organization.

The 2011 survey also identified some areas in which the ANAO could improve, and the ANAO has developed a number of initiatives for 2012–13, including development of a communications plan to guide its engagement with members of Parliament. The ANAO will also look into developing a more concise brochure to outline the objectives and key findings of each performance audit. It is also considering other approaches to better express the key themes and findings of an audit and to reduce the complexity in its reports—to the extent practical. Source: ORIMA Research (Organisational Improvement and Market Research) (2009), “Australian National Audit Office, 2008 Parliamentary Survey”, Australian National Audit Office.

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