Aiming to summarise information on the role and effectiveness of supreme audit institutions (SAI) in the conditions of the pandemic, the State Audit Office participated in and led one of the working groups (“Role and Effectiveness”) of the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) COVID-19 last June. To provide support to EUROSAI member state SAIs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by pooling the experience of different SAIs, the EUROSAI set up design teams on a variety of topics, led by various interested SAIs.
A group led by SAI Latvia, including colleagues from the UK, Finland, and Sweden, analysed internal and external communication issues, teleworking, and institutional aspects outside the audit work.
The survey resulted in an informative document regarding challenges the EUROSAI member SAIs have faced during the pandemic, their effect on the operation of SAIs, and solutions to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. Surveyed EUROSAI member SAIs identified several challenges while showing the ability to address them and adapt to the new conditions successfully at the same time. The main challenges highlighted by the survey results were ensuring that SAIs’ staff were safe and could continue to work remotely, including the continuity of audit activity, while adapting programming concerning the subject of the COVID-19 pandemic expenditures to make relevant recommendations to the administration. The surveyed SAIs have acknowledged that they also faced staff management challenges in searching and finding new approaches to employee motivation and mental health sustainability.
The survey has also outlined that for the public administration, society, and stakeholders to have the perception that they can rely on the SAIs role even in exceptional circumstances, communication has become a fundamental aspect. Therefore, other SAIs, just like the State Audit Office, created a specific section dedicated to COVID-19 issues on their websites. The EUROSAI member SAIs have also admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the planned transition to digitalised working methods and remote auditing, which is a precondition for solving the tasks within the SAIs mandate.
The main objectives of EUROSAI are to promote professional cooperation among European supreme audit institutions, support the exchange of information and documentation, facilitate public sector auditing research, stimulate the creation of academic positions in this area, and achieve harmonisation of audit terminology. The State Audit Office has been a full-fledged member of EUROSAI since 1995 and a Member of the EUROSAI Governing Board from 2017 for six years.