National Audit Chamber Peer-support Project 2018-2020
The overall objective of the support is to “Maintain and strengthen key audit-related capacities in NAC, to prepare NAC to play a strong role in the reform efforts of the Government of South Sudan to improve and sustain Public Financial Management Administration and accounting systems.” Depending on how the challenging situation in South Sudan develops, maintenance of the capacity of the audit office may be the most realistic ambition.
The project is for three years: May 2017 – April 2020. The actual progress and lessons learned of the activities starting in 2017, will determine the activities in the later years.
Advice to execution, reporting and dissemination of audits is a key part of the project. NAC has during the last years adopted various audit manuals and participated in general trainings in various areas, and now needs support to implement and utilize this knowledge in the office. NAC has underlined the need for on-the-job training. Providing support to the execution of specific audits will enable NAC to build capacity related to core activities. Three audits are prioritized to start in 2017 and three in 2018. These audits have been selected by NAC based on materiality, requirement of external support and likelihood of completion. Each audit involves the following standard activities:
• Pre-planning workshop including establishment of teams, planning of the audit and knowledge raising of the area
• Regular contact and feedback on e-mail and telephone
• Execution workshop
• Reporting workshop
• Printing of report for Parliament and brochure with summary of findings for public distribution
• Dissemination workshop after the report is tabled for stakeholders including auditee, PAC members, media, CSOs
The project also includes support to NAC participation at AFROSAI-E events. There are both annual AFROSAI-E events relevant where NAC participation is pertinent, but also specific trainings relevant for the selected audits. For instance, for the audit of the IFMIS, there is a relevant AFROSAI-E workshop on IT-audit programme where it is proposed NAC participate with members of the audit team doing the IFMIS related audit. NAC’s performance and impact is dependent on key stakeholders, especially the ministries and Parliament. The project therefore includes activities to sensitize key auditees and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on NAC’s function, standards, operations, recent findings and how audit reports can be handled. This sensitization is regarded to be important to prepare for a stronger role of NAC in a more stable situation in South Sudan.
To ensure the various knowledge acquired in the audit process and through trainings are spread and institutionalized internally in NAC, the project also includes support to management systems and an annual knowledge sharing workshop for all staff. The management support will focus on establishing an overall annual audit plan and system for monitoring, reporting and quality control in NAC. Advise for development and dissemination of the annual SAI Performance report will also be provided, and linked to the sensitization of key stakeholders. All the expected outcome and outputs are linked to the NAC strategic development plan 2016-18.
SAIs connected to this project
- South Sudan
- Completion of audits in areas of high importance, such as the audit of IFMIS, Local content2 of the petroleum sector, the Constituency Development Fund and the Juba city council
- Training and customization of new up-to date financial and compliance audit manuals, preparing NAC to conduct annual audits in line with international standards
- Management development training which resulted in key plans and strategies developed, such as the new strategic plan, stakeholder engagement strategy and HR-strategy.
- Completion of the first NAC activity report, showing its performance since 2005.
- A project design with support to high-prioritized audits works well, and is a good starting point for building capacity in other areas critical for successful audit execution and results.
- Government funding to NAC operational funds and salary payments is unstable. If auditors are not paid regularly and regular audit operations to a limited extent are funded by government, agreed project activities will be delayed. Support to NAC’s budget mobilization of resources and stakeholder engagement should be prioritized in project support.
- Distance-based support to NAC is challenging, such as to facilitate online contact between peers in Kenya and Juba. This requires reliable internet connections and a follow up from both staff and advisors to communicate regularly. Dedicated support to internal coordination and monitoring and use of ICT-tools for communication by NAC as well as more Juba presence are important to ensure better utilization of available peer support.
- Dealing with NAC’s constant challenges and adjusting project plans thereafter requires flexible project management with frequent contact between IDIs project leader and NAC leadership.
- The peer partners IDI, AFROSAI-E, OAGK and OAGN can collectively ensure comprehensive support to NAC. Strong and active project management and regular coordination among peers is critical to ensure synergies between supported areas and relevant support. This requires establishing good routines for regular meetings and sharing of plans and reports. Peer partners need to be informed in due course on dates for events.
- NAC wants to conduct financial and compliance audit in line with ISSAIs, but building the competence of staff to apply new methodology takes a long time. A large degree of on-site, on-the-job support is required. A few selected controls and working papers should be prioritized for the first audits to ensure quality and avoid confusion.
- Project expected results and indicators should be set at different levels, so reporting can take into account that not all results are within project control. Indicators and targets need to be set as realistic as possible, taking into account an unstable country situation.
- Gender equality should be planned and integrated in the project from the beginning, considering an indicator measuring actual progress in SAI actions of gender equality.