Monday, August 28, 2006

Government Accountability Resources

In yesterday's post Government of Canada Information Management Conference I wrote that one of the presentations at the upcoming IM - Taking Care of Business conference in Ottawa on October 2-3, 2006 would be about the experience of the United States Government Accountability Office or GAO. The GAO is in charge of independently auditing all U.S. federal government agencies.

That got me thinking about the kinds of performance and accountability reporting requirements different governments have.

Of course, we all know the Office of the Auditor-General of Canada that regularly provides detailed information on the financial administration of the government of Canada. This includes assessments of the efficiency and effectiveness of government policy. The revelations of policy gaffes and misspent public monies contained in the regular reports by our very popular Auditor-General, Sheila Fraser, fill the pages of Canadian newspapers for days on end and provide lots of ammunition for opposition attacks against whoever happens to be in government.
In the Canadian federal sector, departments and agencies also have to submit Departmental Performance Reports to the Treasury Board Secretariat. They of course also file annual reports to Parliament.

The U.K. National Audit Office in the United Kingdom scrutinizes British public spending on behalf of parliament. Its website offers detailed information on its role and activities. It includes access to its annual report and press notices and the full text of all its reports for the past few years. This includes audits of the accounts of specific government departments, commentary on government budgets and public expenditure and financial reports.

The U.S. Australian National Audit Office provides audit services to the Australian Parliament and to public sector agencies. Audit New Zealand does the same in New Zealand and the Auditor-General South Africa handles audits of government expenditures and management in that country.

Recently, I also came across a post on the Paris-based Servicedoc.info blog about new public sector audits in France. It referred to the website of the French Ministry of the Economy which provides a list of completed audits as well as one of proposed audits. The French agency "La documentation française" also provides access to the Bibliothèque des rapports publics (Library of Public Reports): an online collection of more than 4,000 official reports, studies, evaluations and performance audits of government institutions, ministries, agencies, courts, etc.

France, as well as Belgium, have what are called a Cour des comptes. The French Cour des comptes, or quasi-judicial Court of Accounts, is responsible for auditing central government departments, ministries and agencies; semi-independent public bodies; social security bodies; public corporations and nationalised industries. The Belgian Cour des comptes or Court of Audit is a "collateral body of Parliament" and exerts control on the budgetary, accounting and financial operations of the Federal State, the Communities (institutional bodies for the French-speaking, Flemish-speaking, German-speaking groups), the Regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels-Capital), the public service institutions depending upon them, and the 9 provinces.

The European Union also has a European Court of Auditors which is on a par with the other institutions of the Union: the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The Court ensures the reliability of the EU accounts and the legality of the transactions underlying the EU budget.

Finally, there is an International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions with member states ranging from Albania to Zambia.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:20 pm

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