How IDI supports
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How IDI supports

Support areas

The SAI Strategic Management Framework in figure 2 below holistically covers the factors contributing to SAI outcomes and impact. IDI will use this framework in all partnerships as a fundament for understanding the SAI and prioritizing support. The domains entail both the institutional capacity, organizational capacity and professional capacity of a SAI. These three capacity dimensions are mutually dependent.

Development of institutional capacity is tied to the SAI's legal framework, leadership, and ability to mitigate risks and utilize opportunities in the political landscape. Development of organizational capacity refers to effective audit processes and support services, as well as management systems and organizational culture. Development of professional staff capacity is linked to knowledge, skills, and attitudes among the employees at all levels.

Figure 2 SAI Strategic Management Framework

Principles for execution

IDI’s bilateral programmes will be guided by the following principles:

  • Partner-driven process towards ISSAI compliance
  • Holistic and change-oriented approach using the SAI Strategic Management Framework
  • Peer-to-peer support by experienced resource persons
  • Presence and continuity
  • Partnerships and active coordination with INTOSAI regions and development partners
  • Flexibility and continuous learning
  • Management of risks

Partner-driven process towards ISSAI compliance

The IDI support shall always be based on demand and shall take its starting point from SAI needs and preconditions. IDI are colleagues and discussion partners that base the support on the needs and opportunities expressed by the partner SAIs, rather than coming in with predefined solutions and approaches4. Such an approach is assumed to enhance ownership and sustainability. Also, it should ensure necessary adjustments to the local context and enable IDI to “make no harm” in a fragile context.

IDI’s support should to the extent possible be aligned to the strategies and plans of the partner-SAI. If the SAI does not have an updated needs assessment and strategic plan, IDI will support the SAI in developing this. The SAI PMF and the IDI model for strategic planning are useful resources for this process. In some contexts, it will be considered to recommend a light form of needs assessment and use a simple format for the strategic plan adapted to the capacity of the partner-SAI.

The ISSAIs constitute the best practice for how SAIs should conduct their audit work and serve as guidelines for identifying areas relevant for support. However, in supporting SAIs in fragile states and other particularly challenged countries, it is important to take a phased approach to ISSAI implementation. Similarly, it is important to develop a critical mass of staff that is able to use the ISSAIs and obtains both an understanding and commitment of top management to gradual ISSAI implementation.

Holistic and change-oriented approach

The IDI promotes a holistic approach to SAI capacity development. The SAI Strategic Management Framework defines major domains of an SAI which collectively influence its performance. A bilateral cooperation will not necessarily involve support in all domains, but the framework is a fundament for discussions on which capacities of an SAI that must be considered and strengthened.

How the support can contribute to change, and which preconditions must be in place to achieve these goals, must be stipulated. The SAI Strategic Management framework can be used to develop a theory of change for the support. A theory of change is a description of how and why the desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is a mapping exercise, where the start point is the desired long-term goals and then working back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place for the goals to occur, including how these conditions relate to one another.

Close dialogue with the partner SAI is necessary to determine which preconditions must be in place in order to bring about change. These parameters may include factors that partners exert some control over, but also factors that fall outside the sphere that an SAI (at least in the short to intermediate time) can influence, such as the legal framework. IDI will provide support in areas where it has reasonable assurances that improvements in SAI outcomes will take place. Nevertheless, as an organization supporting all SAIs in developing countries, IDI will be prepared to also support SAIs in unpromising environments where major improvements only can be expected in the long run. In environments with very limited national support for the strengthening of the SAI, the support of IDI may be directed towards empowerment of the SAI leadership, to believe in reform success, create national awareness of the potential role of the SAI, mobilize the support of partners and create a momentum for change. The SAI can, where feasible, be supported to develop partnerships with the donor community, civil society, media, and academia, as with parliamentarians and political parties. In addition to creating partnerships, a strategy for SAIs in unpromising environments may also be to carry out audits strategically which clearly demonstrate the value and benefits of the SAI, such as in areas of service delivery. A support strategy of IDI could be to strengthen professional and organizational capacities of the SAI where these can lead to audits raising the respect of the SAI and increasing the prospects for reform.

Often capacity development interventions can be linked to the execution and reporting of concrete audits. This means providing support for tasks that are part of the SAIs core activities. Completion of audits could ensure “quick wins” in the cooperation and thereby contribute to the achievement of significant longer-term capacity changes.

Peer-to-peer support by experienced resource persons

Resource persons are selected by the IDI based on strong interpersonal as well as professional skills. IDI will seek to utilize resource persons and SAIs with experience from IDI programmes and similar environments and challenges as the partner-SAI. Cooperation with the relevant INTOSAI regions will be important when identifying resource persons. Consultants can also be used as resource persons if qualified peers are not available.

In the modalities of support, and in line with the approach of the IDI global and regional programmes, emphasis should be put on combining theoretical knowledge generation with practical experience. "On the job training" and mentoring on audits are important mechanisms here. Building personal relationships and mutual trust is a success factor and must be given priority.

Presence and continuity

In fragile states and other particularly challenged countries, a high degree of sensitivity to the local conditions is required. Presence and continuity are important for establishing the necessary trust, developing good organisational and cultural knowledge, gaining insight into political and economic contexts, and enhancing our relevance as a partner. For IDI the general rule is the use of short-term resource persons and frequent contact through e-mail and phone, but long-term deployments can also be considered. The degree of IDI presence must be assessed case-by-case looking into the needs of the SAI, resources available and what type of support which will lead to sustainable SAI improvements.

Partnerships and active coordination with INTOSAI regions and development partners

A number of different organizations are supporting SAIs, PFM-improvements and anti-corruption work. This gives a need for harmonization and coordination. The IDI’s bilateral support shall be carried out in close interaction with other partners, donors and relevant actors in the partner country to ensure coordinated efforts.5

To maximize the value of the support, IDI will seek partnerships with INTOSAI regions, neighbouring SAIs, donors and other providers of support. These partners may have comparative advantages which could complement the IDI support, for instance, ability to be physically present in the country over time or stronger country knowledge. Partnerships with the INTOSAI regions or other SAIs are also important to prepare for taking over of the responsibility of peer support to the SAI when the IDI bilateral support is completed.

When IDI considers bilateral support, IDI will as a standard procedure ask relevant INTOSAI regional regions whether the bilateral support could be carried out as a joint partnership. A joint project between IDI and the regions can ensure the support is well coordinated with regional activities as well as benefit from the network and competencies available within the regions. The involvement of the regions in bilateral support will have to be decided upon case-by-case as the capacity and opportunities for regional involvement in bilateral support varies.

Synergies with IDI’s global/regional programmes will also be sought, in terms of utilization of material and resource persons. In some cases, participation in global/regional programmes may be fruitful for SAIs receiving bilateral support, as a supplement to the bilateral support.

Flexibility and continuous learning

The principle of flexibility is relevant in several ways. Firstly, IDI is flexible in terms of the strategic priorities and what areas the SAI priorities for capacity development support. Secondly, IDI will support the adaptation of global public goods and IDI material to the specific context of the SAI. Thirdly, IDI is flexible to adjustment of plans, reflecting IDI’s commitment to continuous learning in partnerships and the evolving conditions facing the SAI. Still, IDI stresses that agreements and plans should be used actively during implementation. That is how needs for changes can be identified at an early stage. Also, by having clear expectations to the partner for using plans, the ownership of the partner is taken seriously. To enable annual learning in a more long-term support programme, the design of the support shall group expected outcomes, outputs, and activities into discrete steps that can be taken and evaluated.

Management of risks

IDI’s bilateral support will target SAIs having significant challenges in performance and often operating in an unpromising environment. Furthermore, working in fragile states involves a risk of making more harm than good due to a complex and stressed situation. The implication is that bilateral programmes will involve high developmental and operational risks, but also reputational risks as defined by IDI’s corporate risk register.

To deal with the risks, it is critical that IDI’s bilateral support is based on a realistic assessment of the IDI capacity, characteristic of the partner-SAI and the local context.

Some challenges related to the IDI capacity to conduct bilateral programmes are:

  • Availability of resource persons with sufficient experience and personal qualities
  • Lack of understanding and adaption to the local context
  • Ability to be physically present and clarify misconceptions and unblock issues

Some challenges related to the most challenged SAIs and their environment are:

  • Limited project management and coordination capacity
  • Lack of SAI independence, weak Parliament and unfavourable external pressure
  • Shortage of qualified and motivated staff and leadership, and lack of incentives for performance
  • Inadequate physical structures and resources
  • Limited internal financial management capacity and opportunities for corruption among staff
  • Insecurity, changing conditions and unpredictability

Conditions for support

For IDI to consider bilateral support, the SAI should request for support, either through the Global Call for Proposals or directly to the IDI. IDI will also consider bilateral support if a donor asks IDI to provide support. A dialogue will then be initiated with the SAI.

IDI will assess all requests or options for bilateral support using a uniform set of conditions. Bilateral support will be considered to SAIs that meet the following conditions:

  1. The SAI has major challenges and there is a need for bilateral support in areas where IDI has competencies and comparative advantages
  2. The SAI does not receive extensive support and there are no other INTOSAI community providers (SAIs or regional organizations) able to deliver the support needed
  3. IDI has the capacity to provide support and proper working arrangements can be established
  4. The SAI demonstrates a willingness and continued commitment to strengthen its performance and operate according to the principles of transparency and accountability

IDI will apply these conditions in the initial assessment on whether or not to establish a bilateral support programme. IDI will also regularly review whether these conditions remain in place.

For prioritizing candidates for bilateral support, IDI will give priority to SAIs in fragile states2 and applicants who satisfy the conditions for support to a high degree using a prioritization matrix. IDI can provide bilateral support to SAIs in countries not regarded as fragile. However, these SAIs will be less prioritized. IDI will only provide support to SAI’s who are members of INTOSAI or an SAI region.

The SAI has major challenges and there is a need for bilateral support in areas where IDI has competencies and comparative advantages

When IDI receives a request for bilateral support, IDI will assess whether:

  1. The SAI has major challenges; SAIs who struggle to complete and report basic audits and lack core internal systems are regarded as having major challenges.
  2. The nature of the support can be met by participation in IDI regional/global programmes; if IDI has an ongoing or upcoming regional/global programme that is suitable for the needs and capacity of the SAI, IDI will not provide bilateral support.
  3. If the support requested is in areas where the IDI has a particular competence and/or comparative advantage: IDI has comparative advantages when peers from other SAIs with relevant and strong experience can be recruited for the programme. It will also be an advantage if IDI has experience in delivering a global/regional programme in the area requested by the SAI. In Appendix 1, some selected IDI programmes are grouped into the SAI Strategic Management Framework domains to show where IDI has experience and a network of trained resource persons.

The SAI does not receive extensive peer support and there are no other INTOSAI community providers able to deliver the support needed

The vast majority of SAIs in developing countries receive some form of capacity development support (including through the IDI and INTOSAI regions). IDI will give priority to SAIs that currently are non-recipients of peer-bilateral support and to a little extent receive technical support.

Prior to entering into a bilateral cooperation, the IDI will check whether there are other SAIs or INTOSAI regions that equally can provide the support, to ensure that it does not crowd out other suppliers. To what extent a private supplier of technical assistance would be preferable for meeting the request of an SAI is difficult to assess. IDI will therefore primarily assess the availability of alternative providers in the INTOSAI community (SAIs and regions).

To what extent other INTOSAI providers are “able to deliver the support needed” is not a clear-cut issue. SAIs may receive support, but less relevant and effective support. When assessing whether SAIs receive sufficient support, IDI will assume that fostering genuine change in the most challenged SAIs will require holistic support as well as ability to support long-term and with a high degree of presence. This support can be carried out by both one or several providers, and both through INTOSAI and non-INTOSAI providers.

There could be situations where other providers can partially meet the needs of the SAI. IDI will consider whether it is possible to forge partnerships with INTOSAI regional organizations, SAIs or other providers to meet requests, taking into account the benefits of potential partnerships.

IDI has the capacity to provide support and proper working arrangements can be established

Sufficient funding for the programme must be available (see Chapter 5). IDI must also consider to what extent human capacity is available, in terms of resource persons with the relevant competencies and skills as well as resourcing for project management within the IDI. It will be an advantage for the IDI to provide bilateral support to SAIs whose language is one of the four official IDI languages, or where a large proportion of the IDI staff speaks one of these. Nevertheless, given its global outreach, IDI will be prepared to also work with SAIs who have only a few staff speaking any of these languages, as long as appropriate arrangements for translation can be put in place.

Security is a concern in fragile states and will affect the working conditions for IDI support. Provision of onsite support must be carefully evaluated as the security of IDI staff and resource persons are paramount. In some cases, meetings in a neighbouring country will be the main form of physical contact. For IDI, the working arrangements will be acceptable as long as regular physical meetings and electronic contact with major SAI representatives can be carried out.

SAI demonstrates a willingness and continued commitment to strengthen its performance and operate according to the principles of transparency and accountability

The experience of the IDI is that strong and committed leadership is a critical success factor for SAI development. This entails leadership based on integrity and a vision of the SAI as a national reform agent.

IDI expects the SAI’s top management to be resolute and active agents of change towards the ideals of ISSAI 12: SAIs making a difference to the lives of citizens. At the same time, IDI recognize that the space for change and the institutional capacity for change differs.

IDI will support SAIs even though they lack basic systems for integrity and performance. Nevertheless, IDI expects its partners to commit to developing basic systems enhancing integrity and performance in their context (formalized in the Statement of Commitments). For ensuring integrity, this typically involves implementing a Code of Ethics based on ISSAI 30, as well as an annual external audit of the SAI. To enhance performance, a strategic plan is a useful tool for setting the pace and direction of change for an SAI. If an SAI does not have a strategic plan, IDI will support the SAI to carry out a needs assessment and develop a strategic plan in the early stages of a cooperation.

Provision of IDI support depends on close cooperation and coordination with the SAI. IDI expects the SAI to allocate a clear responsibility and dedicated resources for coordination of capacity development support. Coordination involves active sharing of information and updating plans for activities.

Languages delivered

Bilateral support is mainly delivered in the IDI’s official languages of English, French, Arabic, and Spanish. However, IDI can through its network mobilize resource persons able to communicate in other languages. In each bilateral project, there will be an assessment of the language required by resource persons and the ability of IDI to provide resource persons with the necessary language skills.


IDI seeks long-term and flexible funding arrangements for bilateral support. Basically, the funding must ensure sufficient quality taking into account the major risks involved. IDI must ensure that it does not deviate from its own capacity development approach and principles when entering into a funding arrangement. IDI should also seek to establish funding which maintains a robust professional environment in IDI related to support to the most challenged SAIs.

Bilateral support can be financed in different ways:

  • by the country-specific allocation of funds to the strengthening of the SAI, both as a part of a PFM programme or singularly to the SAI
  • by regional or global financial arrangements for a strengthening of SAIs
  • by funds controlled by the SAI
  • by IDI’s core funding

IDI can be a partner with organizations implementing PFM-programs. IDI may also apply for positions on relevant framework agreements from which support to SAIs in fragile states and some other particularly challenged countries may be called down.

There may be a situation where IDI receives a request although funding has not been committed or where the allocated funds are insufficient to establish a bilateral programme. In such a situation, IDI will assist in contacting potential donors to establish funding.

IDI’s core funding can be used for financing bilateral activities as long as this does not impair IDI’s ability to carry out global and regional programmes.

Phases of projects

Bilateral programmes are managed through phases to ensure good processes for planning, decision-making, and interaction. The main phases are Assessment of the request, Planning, Execution, and Finalization. Prolongation can also be considered, which will involve a new Planning phase. If IDI is requested to provide bilateral support on a small scale, the procedures followed will be less extensive.

Assessment of request

When IDI receives a request/proposal for support, a desk review is conducted to assess whether the conditions for IDI bilateral support can be met. A prioritization matrix will be used internally in IDI to systematically assess whether the conditions for support are met and to prioritize among requests. The phase is concluded by a letter sent to the SAI informing on the IDI decision and the way forward if relevant.

Whether funding is available when a request for bilateral support is received will vary. If funding is not in place, IDI core funding could be used for the planning phase as long as IDI’s capacity for global and regional programmes are not impaired.


The overall purpose of the planning phase is to settle whether the conditions for support are met by developing a plan and draft agreement with the partner-SAI. This includes outlining the principles for the cooperation, funding arrangements, roles of potential partners and a plan for support activities. To ensure mutual understanding and a systematic planning phase, a ToR should be agreed by IDI and the partner-SAI. A study trip should, as a general rule, be carried out to collect necessary information regarding the conditions for support and development of plans.

IDI must clearly communicate to the SAI requesting for support that even though a planning phase has been initiated, IDI has not taken a final decision on providing support. A cooperation will only be established when the “Statement of Commitments” is signed.

The planning phase should result in a “Planning phase report”. If support is finally recommended, this report should include a proposed agreement (“Statement of Commitments”), work-plan and financial arrangements. All bilateral support projects shall as a general rule be presented for approval of the Board through the IDI Operational Plan. Requests for bilateral support can come throughout the year and may have to be handled ad-hoc outside the IDI planning cycle. Bilateral support involving minor IDI resources can then be approved by the IDI management, but large and possibly contentious engagements shall be discussed with the Board prior to making agreements. When allocating resources, a pragmatic approach should be followed rather than IDI having a fixed upper limit.6


The planning, reporting, and decision-making should as far as possible be integrated into the SAI’s own management systems. The annual planning of activities should be carried out as a part of the process to establish the SAI operational plan. Likewise, the reporting of the activities should be carried out as an integrated part of the annual performance report of the SAI to avoid duplication of efforts. In the process, IDI will support the SAI to improve its planning and reporting procedures. IDI will use this information for the IDI Performance and Accountability report to the IDI Board and external stakeholders.

IDI will encourage the partner SAI to develop operational plans which are linked to the strategic goals and where the expected outputs are broken down into smaller deliverables of support. All major activities should have a Terms of Reference (ToR) linked to the annual plan. The ToR should list objectives, activities, timeline, and responsibilities for the specific activity. As a general rule, the ToR should be drafted by the partner-SAI.

Reports of activities should be developed short time after the activity is completed. The report should be short and contain a list of activities completed, a brief assessment of whether objectives of the ToR have been met and lessons learned.

The annual meeting is the main decision forum for the collaboration. Key parts of the agenda include the assessment of the achievements in the passing year and planning for next year. The text to the annual report as well as a draft work plan for next year should be prepared jointly ahead of the annual meeting. Monitoring of the programme is done related to the annual reporting and meeting.

Finalization or prolongation

When the programme is approaching the agreed closing date, the achievements, lessons learned and implications of finalization vs prolongation should be assessed. The partner-SAI and the financial donor should be invited to give inputs to the evaluation. For larger projects, an external evaluator should be engaged and the IDI Board will have to approve finalization or prolongation.

In a situation where key agreements of the cooperation are not adhered to, IDI will have a dialogue with the partner-SAI on how this can be improved. If the situation remains problematic over a longer time period, IDI may terminate the support before the intended finalization date.


How can SAIs in challenged environments improve their performance and be supported in a best possible way? Below some selected guidelines, reports and links are provided related to these questions.

  • Guideline on working with SAIs in fragile states
  • CBC working group on SAIs in fragile situations (
  • INTOSAI's guidelines for capacity-building of SAIs (
  • OECD (2016) Good development support in fragile, at-risk and crisis affected contexts. OECD Development Policy Papers
  • Noussi, K. (2012): How Public Accountability Is Institutionalized: The Case of External Public Auditing in Global Perspective Applying a Mixed-Methods Approach
  • Williamson, T. (2015) Change in challenging contexts. How does it happen? ODI report.
  • Hart, T., Hadley, S. and Welham, B. (2015) Use of country systems in fragile states. ODI report