Mr Lee Summerfield

SAIs are facing increasing pressures to produce relevant audits, often more quickly than traditional work is completed.

‘Fake news’ and growing mistrust of traditional sources of information means each SAI must find ways to remain relevant, credible, authoritative, and flexible.

In a complex and changing environment, traditional financial and performance audit are not always responsive enough to emerging issues.

The UK National Audit Office’s (UK NAO) answer has been to develop an innovative audit approach that we call ‘Investigations’.

The objective is to publish a 5,000 word audit report in 12 weeks. The reports use existing NAO performance auditing standards to ‘establish the audited facts’ - they do not contain evaluative statements, conclusions, audit opinions, or recommendations.

Since 2015, we have published over 60 investigations in response to high-profile failures in public service delivery, and investigations are now recognised both by our audited bodies and our stakeholders.

Because we report quickly, our Parliamentary stakeholders say investigations help them hold more timely evidence sessions with senior Government officials.

We have seen both financial and public service improvements because of this work.

Other EUROSAI members are adopting ‘Investigations’. Under Strategic Goal 1 (Objective 1.2 - Support the development of innovative audit approaches and methods), the UK NAO hosted a workshop in November 2018 where interested SAIs shared their experiences.

Maybe this audit approach could add value in your context? We invite EUROSAI colleagues to attend this workshop and discuss:

  • The impact and the value of ‘investigations’ to achieving greater accountability and public service improvement.
  • The challenges developing the capability required to deliver rapid, factual, and reactive audits.

The workshop will be led by UK NAO specialists and draw on the experience of other EUROSAI colleagues. We will not only demonstrate our approach, but agree how EUROSAI members can communicate, compare, and co-operate on Reactive and Rapid Auditing in 2020 and beyond.