September 12, 2019
Supporting the Audit Office of Guyana in Its Role as a Regional Leader
When the Auditor General of Guyana became the Chair of the Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI) this June, CAAF and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of British Columbia were there, supporting Guyana’s SAI as it assumed this regional leadership role.
Marc Bélanger, CAAF Program Officer for Performance Audit, Sheila Dodds, Deputy Auditor General, OAG of British Columbia, and John Affleck, CAAF Associate, traveled to Guyana to take part in the CAROSAI Congress and deliver training for the delegates.
The Congress was an informative and productive event and we were glad for the opportunity to contribute to it and to learn from the participating SAIs. “CAAF congratulates the Audit Office of Guyana on hosting this successful conference and thanks the Office for involving us,” said John Reed, CAAF President and CEO.
While in Guyana, CAAF, the OAG of British Columbia and the SAI of Guyana also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Our three organizations are committing to a partnership under CAAF’s seven-year International Governance, Accountability and Performance program, funded by the Government of Canada. With the support of the OAG of British Columbia and other Canadian partners, CAAF will help the SAI strengthen its performance audit practice and contribute to improved transparency, accountability and effectiveness in the management of public resources and delivery of services for the citizens of Guyana.
The Memorandum of Understanding makes special note of our commitment to work with the SAI as the Chair of CAROSAI, so that the transfer of knowledge between Canada and Guyana can, in turn, be transferred from Guyana to its CAROSAI partners. “The SAI’s role as CAROSAI Chair presents a great opportunity for the SAI and for our program,” said Terry Hunt, CAAF’s Vice-President of International Programs. “In addition to helping the SAI develop its capacity, we will support the SAI’s efforts to exchange knowledge with its regional peers and extend our program’s impact across the Caribbean.”
Executive Workshop on Root Cause Analysis
As host of the CAROSAI Congress, the Guyana SAI included a special session on the agenda: On Sunday, June 23, before the meetings began Monday, CAAF delivered a condensed version of its Root Cause Analysis course for Congress delegates.
This executive workshop was an opportunity for us to present to many Auditors General and other senior officials from the region, giving them an introduction to root cause analysis and the benefits of applying it to the performance audit process. They saw how root cause analysis techniques can help auditors identify underlying causes of observed deficiencies and write better audit recommendations, thereby increasing audit impact.
John Affleck led this workshop, with Sheila Dodds and Marc Bélanger. By using completed audits from British Columbia as examples in the training, Ms. Dodds gave a concrete, first-hand perspective that participants appreciated.
Participants had the chance to try out some root cause analysis techniques and get a taste of what our full course offers. Many of them told us they would share these lessons with their staff and incorporate the tools in their work, throughout all audit phases.
The CAROSAI Congress
CAAF and the OAG of British Columbia also participated in the following days of the Congress, alongside representatives from the 18 CAROSAI member SAIs and other organizations.
CAAF was invited to address the Congress during the opening ceremonies. Mr. Bélanger described how CAAF aims to help audit offices increase their effectiveness through our training offerings, guidance materials and other resources, including in emerging areas like auditing gender equality and the Sustainable Development Goals. He thanked the Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma, for including CAAF in the Congress meetings and said that “CAAF is glad that our partnership with the SAI of Guyana gives us this opportunity to engage with the CAROSAI community.”
Sessions during the Congress centered on the theme of “Vision of Performance; for Relevance and Success.” In this context, Ms. Dodds gave a presentation on leveraging the impact of performance audits, telling the audience, “Achieving impact is not limited to the size of your audit office or the scope of your audit.” She shared lessons from both “large” audits, like a collaborative audit conducted by Canada’s federal and provincial Auditors General, and “small” audits, such as narrowly scoped performance audits focusing on management controls and compliance with policy and legislation. She encouraged CAROSAI members to consider how they could use similar large and small audits to make an impact in their countries and across the Caribbean and to explore opportunities for exchanging knowledge, like collaborative audits.
Auditor General Sharma also invited the State Audit Office of Vietnam to attend and make a presentation, as another SAI participating in CAAF’s international program and as the Chair of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions. Vietnam’s delegation presented on strengthening human resources and using technology to improve the quality of its audits.
Signing the MOU
CAAF, the SAI of Guyana and the OAG of British Columbia signed the Memorandum of Understanding for our partnership at a ceremony on the Sunday evening. In attendance were many Caribbean Auditors General, staff of the Audit Office of Guyana, the Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee, and members of the local media.
In her remarks, High Commissioner Chatterjee spoke about Canada’s commitment to supporting innovation and reforms through improved accountability and transparency. A focus for Canada, as seen in its Feminist International Assistance Policy, is strengthening the capacity of governments to deliver public services that better respond to the needs of all citizens—women and men, girls and boys.
Mr. Bélanger described how this CAAF program will contribute to that goal, by helping to increase the effectiveness of the Audit Office as well as the Public Accounts Committee. As he explained, “When a SAI audits government programs in areas like health, education, the environment, or economic development, and assesses how well programs are serving people’s needs, its findings and recommendations relate directly to citizens’ wellbeing. And when an oversight body holds government accountable for implementing those recommendations, it leads to real improvements.”
Both Mr. Sharma and Ms. Dodds spoke of the benefits their offices expect to gain from the partnership. Not only do exchanges like this allow the opportunity to learn techniques from each other, but also to gain a better understanding of the cultures in which both organizations exist.
The OAG of British Columbia has already been highly involved with Guyana in the first year of this program: For instance, Ms. Dodds participated in our assessment mission to Guyana in August 2018, audit manager Katie Olthuis co-facilitated CAAF training for the SAI in January 2019, and the OAG hosted the 2018-19 Fellows from Guyana. CAAF is glad to have the OAG of British Columbia joining us in this partnership supporting Guyana’s SAI and we thank the OAG staff for sharing their time and expertise.
With our partnership now formalized in this MOU, we look forward to our next steps in helping the SAI build its capacity and to working together to strengthen performance audit, oversight and accountability in Guyana and across the Caribbean.