Case Study 2: Office of the Fijian Auditor-General (OAG)

The OAG was initially restructured during the 1992-1995 ADB-funded technical assistance program as a part of the public sector reforms (Asian Development Bank 1995), with a stipulation that the 1970 Audit Act (Audit Act 1970) was to be amended to give greater powers to the OAG to expand compliance audits to incorporate modern audit methodologies such as environmental and performance audits. It was in 2006 that the 1970 Audit Act was amended and section 6(A) expanded the powers of the Fijian Auditor-General. We provide our review of the OAG in this context. As per the requirements of the 1996 Public Enterprise Act (amended 2019), Division 5, in line with the Fijian National Development Plan (2016, 2018-2021) that emphasizes the socio-economic development themes (expressed in qualitative terms) envisaged to “transform Fiji” and “improve the well-being” of the Fijian population, the OAG publishes and makes public its four-year strategic plan. Within this ambit, the plan identifies in both quantitative and qualitative terms the outcomes the OAG seeks to achieve in terms of public sector audit deliveries, to demonstrate transparency and accountability.

Table 10.2 summarizes the key strategic priorities and outcomes the Office of the Auditor-General has for audit service deliveries.

With global changes in the public sector audit environment and with the membership of the international conglomerate of public sector auditors (the International Congress of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI)), the OAG focuses on dual roles. First, the OAG must be relevant as a

Public Sector Paradigm Shift 243 Table 10.2 Key Strategic Priorities and Outcomes for the OAG

Outcome 1.1 Improve Audit Service Delivery

Strategic Priority

Strategic Priority 1 Value adding audit service

  • 1.1 Improve audit service delivery
  • 1.2 Create more visibility for the О AG

Strategic Priority 2 International Standards and best practices

  • 2.1 Reduce operational costs
  • 2.2 Improve audit turnaround time
  • 2.3 Fully realize the returns on investment on TeamMate software
  • 2.4 Improve quality of audit processes
  • 2.5 Move toward full autonomy
  • 2.6 Improve OAG participation and contribution in international forums
  • 2.7 Modern responsive corporate services

Strategic Priority 3 Conducive/Ideal workplace

3.1 Implement open and transparent performance management

system (PMS)

3.2 Provide opportunities for training and professional development

Source: Data from Office of the Auditor General (2018, 2).

public sector auditor entrusted to hold the government to account. Second, it must show its adaptability toward the ever-changing expectations of its national stakeholders in aligning work processes and outputs to meet their expectations. The following paragraphs describe the outcomes in relation to different strategic priorities.

Strategic Priority 1 Value-Adding Audit Service

The OAG aims to deliver value-adding audit service to its customers by focusing on addressing customer concerns, better understanding their customers, providing expert advice, creating awareness of the OAG’s roles to its customers, and delivering high-quality and timely audit reports. To measure this outcome, the OAG has a set of defined strategic indicators (expressed as percentages ranging from 60 to 100): (i) on yearly audit completions, audit opinions within statutory deadlines, client ratings and approved performance, compliance and special audits; (ii) clients that acknowledge the value-added OAG services; and (iii) audit recommendations agreed to by the clients. The outcomes of these activities show an increase in the quality and timeliness of audit service deliveries (Auditor-General to the Parliament 2019).

Outcome 1.2 Create More Visibility for the OAG

To increase its visibility, the О AG has opened a branch in the Western division of Fiji.* The OAG also provides media releases regularly, thereby informing the public of its audit and accountability roles instead of only providing comments on public sector audit reports. In keeping up with being visible, the OAG also keeps an account of the number of hits on its webpages and their locations, and by providing Outreach and Citizen programs. To measure the effectiveness of its visibility strategies, the OAG has a set of defined strategic indicators (expressed as percentages ranging from 10 to 100).

Strategic Priority 2 International Standards and Best Practices

Outcome 2.1 Reduce Operational Costs

The overall focus on reducing operational cost is driven by an initiative to move toward a paperless environment and promote Green initiatives. The overall strategic target is to reduce operation costs by 10% every year. The indicators for this are a reduction in the purchase of papers and toners, having an efficient server system, and the development of an electronic data management system.

Outcome 2.2 Improve Audit Turnaround Time

The focus of this outcome is to complete audits as per the annual audit work plan with the intention of completing the audits three days before the agreed timeline and improving the CSQ rating to a score of 3 (the scores range from 1 to 4 with 4 being the highest).

Outcome 2.3 Fully Realize the Returns on Investment on TeamMate Software

To fully realize the benefits of using this software program to do audits, the auditors use all the modules in this package, thus enabling different audit teams to work on auditing different entities. This reduces the hours spent on auditing, thereby reducing costs and enabling efficiency.

Outcome 2.4 Improve the Quality of Audit Processes

The OAG has charged its Quality Assurance Unit with the responsibility to ensure that there are no material departures from professional and regulatory standards when quality reviews of financial statements are undertaken. The Unit must meet a compliance target of 95%; that is, ensure that the reports of the financial statement are written in accordance with and comply with relevant professional standards and regulatory requirements. Further, the work of the quality assurance unit is peer-reviewed by both internal and external parties.

Outcome 2.5 Move toward Full Autonomy

Aligned to 2018-2021, the National Development Plan of “transforming Fiji,” the OAG plans to achieve full functional and organizational independence by 2021. In line with this, the 1970 Audit Act (amended in 2006) will be revised and aligned with international best practices. Furthermore, the OAG will seek to develop the required policies and procedures to achieve functional and organizational independence. The anticipation is that the Fijian government will support this initiative through greater budgetary allocation.

Outcome 2.6 Improve OAG Participation and Contribution in International Forums

The OAG intends to host and participate in international meetings and conferences. In its drive to achieve this outcome, the OAG participated in and hosted the 2019 International Working Group IT audit meetings and will be hosting the 2020 Commonwealth Auditor-Generals’ Conference. Further, the intention is to fully participate in other INTOSAI working group activities for staff development and a better understanding of audit practices.

Outcome 2.7 Modern Responsive Corporate Services

With the changing dynamics, the OAG will continue to promote a modern and responsive corporate service to enhance practices in business management that add value to audit products and services. The OAG intends to align the existing and future systems and processes to international standards and best practices that will allow the OAG to excel in public sector auditing. Currently, the OAG professional framework is aimed at enhancing audit quality and timeliness.

Strategic Priority 3 Conducive/Ideal Workplace

Outcome 3.1 Implement Open and Transparent Performance Management System (PMS)

The OAG has a transparent and open form of communication that addresses the staff need for proper flow of communication and message. It is a decentralized planning environment where opinion and contributions are considered. This strategic objective is aimed at performance measurement through performance planning, ongoing, effective communication, performance appraisal, diagnosis, and coaching; hence, the fundamental goal of performance management is to promote and improve effectiveness. It is a continuous process where heads of departments and staff work together to plan, monitor, and review work objectives or goals and its overall contribution to the OAG. Overall, the intended outcome is that through an open and transparent performance management system, the OAG will ensure the designed assessment process will monitor, analyze, and evaluate, and therefore report progress toward achieving the set objectives. Some of the benefits of implementing an open and transparent performance management system are improved productivity, low staff turnover, and happy employees.

Outcome 3.2 Provide Opportunities for Training and Professional Development

The OAG intends to create an environment in which the audit staff are remunerated in line with the market and are provided with opportunities for training and professional development that will allow them to excel. As such, these initiatives will ensure that the OAG workforce is highly skilled, motivated, and healthy. The OAG will therefore improve staff engagement by empowering and equipping staff with the relevant skills, tools, and knowledge to carry out tasks, for example, project audits. In line with this, the OAG has developed comprehensive training which is reviewed continuously on an annual basis to provide at least two training opportunities per staff on an annual basis. The opportunities are aligned with staff skills and OAG requirements. The OAG has implemented a competency matrix for each occupational level.

 
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