Institutional and social oversight mechanisms

Supervisory bodies

As mentioned in Chapter 1, in addition to the departmental inspections, the Tunisian government has three main supervisory bodies: the General Audit Office of Public Services, the Finance General Controller, and the General Controller of State Domains and Land Affairs. There is also the High Committee of Administrative and Financial Control which is in charge of coordinating the different programs of these supervisory bodies. In addition to their supervisory function, these institutions also fulfil an advisory role on legal documents related to the organisation and modernisation of government.

The oversight system in Tunisia raises some issues related to independence (the work orders of the supervisory bodies are determined by the executive branch), coordination, and collaboration, since the different bodies do not systematically share information and their task of providing horizontal monitoring overlaps. It seems that the history behind the creation of these bodies has led to the development of feelings of mistrust between them. Thus, the General Audit Office of Public Services was created within the Office of the Prime Minister, while the Finance General Controller is placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance, the General Controller of State Domains and Land Affairs is under that of the Ministry of State Domains and Land Affairs, and the High Committee of Administrative and Financial Control is under control of the Presidency. Moreover, the State Controller monitors public spending in public establishments, and the General Service of Public Spending conducts ex- ante control on spending.

Meanwhile, the Court of Auditors conducts ex-post audits and it determines its own auditing missions.

The multiplication of these supervisory bodies may lead to redundant horizontal monitoring activities. However, the fusion of some of these bodies is currently under consideration in order to increase the efficiency of the oversight system and make sure it provides assistance to managers so as to reduce the risks of mismanagement of public funds (see Chapter 1).

As part of a comprehensive reform of public finance management that seeks to make the system more based on objectives, the oversight control will also be reformed to replace the current ex-ante control system with an ex-post system.

Note: The systematic exchange of information between internal and external supervisory bodies could also be encouraged in order to optimise the exploitation of the data generated by the different audits performed (see also Chapter 1). Finally, the frequency of audits in public procurement could also be linked to various factors, such as: the nature and scope of the risks involved, or the size and value of the public contracts, the different types of purchase, as well as the complexity, sensitive nature, and specificity of individual contracts (for example, in cases of exemption from the general rule of competitive bidding). Whatever the reform that will be put into place, it is necessary that it rationalises oversight mechanisms and gives supervisory bodies greater independence.

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