Pacific Auditors General make strides in independence, outreach, and audit quality

March 28, 2024
Vaka Pasifika

A webinar discussing the results from the annual survey of Supreme Audit Institutions across the Pacific.

Photo: UNDP

Suva, Fiji - An annual survey of Supreme Audit Institutions across the Pacific has shown that auditors of public funds are overwhelmingly working towards more independence.

The survey - led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji and supported by the European Union (EU) under the Vaka Pasifika Project - also found these same institutions were balancing funding and capacity constraints with demands for more engagement with the broader public, as well as more complex audits looking at financial and policy results.

These observations were shared with the Heads of Supreme Audits Institutions (SAIs) from 10 Pacific Island Countries during a webinar held on the 21 March.

Patrick Junior, Auditor General of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and his team shared how their audit of passport issuance "not only pinpointed areas in need of improvement but also catalyzed meaningful reforms within governmental departments." A new legislation integrating recommendations from the audit reports was adopted in the Passport Act in November 2020.

Fiji's Acting Deputy Auditor General, Finau Nagera, shared that their office had engaged civil society organizations in the review of the Audit Act and received valuable feedback.

"The next step for our office is the launch of our Citizen Audit Guide, which will provide simplified explanation of audit processes and key audit results," she said.

In addition, Ms. Nagera thanked UNDP for their support in designing and launching the guide.

"This will be a major asset in reaching our targets for citizen and media engagement," she said.

The survey documents clear trends in the region:

  • In 9 out of 12 consulted countries, respondents indicated working on legislative reforms to strengthen their independence. 
  • Both Tuvalu and Tonga have successfully passed new legislation to secure financial and administrative independence, necessary for the security and sustainability of their work. 
  • All institutions indicated having to prioritize and limit the scope of their work in order to deliver timely financial audits.
  • Despite clearly documented challenges, work remains to be done to engage with governments and legislatures on the need for reforms.  
  • Most auditors opt to limit their audits of compliance, yet an increasing number are publishing audits of government performance and results in specific sectors on an annual basis as these audits tend to have more impact and generate interest of government, parliaments and citizens alike.

The most radical change in responses this year concerned outreach and citizen engagement. 60 percent of respondents from SAIs in the region - three more countries than in 2022 - have initiated innovative measures to enhance citizen engagement. These measures include the establishment of online portals enabling citizens to report issues and suggest audit topics. By fostering transparency and inclusivity, these initiatives empower communities to actively participate in the oversight process, thereby strengthening governance and accountability in the region.

SAIs across the Pacific have also demonstrated commendable efforts in strategic outreach, leveraging platforms such as social media, talk shows, and government events to disseminate audit results and raise awareness about their crucial mandate. These strategic initiatives play a crucial role in building public trust and promoting effective governance practices.

The Vaka Pasifika Project continues to provide direct technical assistance to Supreme Audit Institutions in the Pacific throughout the region thanks to the support of the European Union. By contributing to the achievement of sustainable development goals and prioritizing the welfare of the region's inhabitants, the project continues to make a tangible difference in the lives of Pacific Islanders.

Read our latest blog on Building Stronger Public Finance Oversight for a Sustainable Future here

For further media enquiries please contact:

Marine Destrez, Vaka Pasifika Project Manager, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. (E)