SAI Independence Programme

SAI Independence Programme

BackgroundProgramme ObjectiveParticipating SAIsCooperating PartnersProgramme Implementation StrategySIRAMProgramme team


Effective SAIs deliver value and benefits to make a difference in the lives of citizens by contributing to accountability, transparency, integrity, staying relevant and leading by example. To be able to deliver these value and benefits as envisaged in ISSAI 12, an SAI needs an enabling and conducive institutional framework. This includes independence as a primary requirement.

Both the Lima and Mexico INTOSAI declarations define this SAI independence. SAI independence also finds a central place in the March 2012 UN General Assembly resolution 66/209 promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening SAIs, which recognized that supreme audit institutions can accomplish their tasks objectively and effectively only if they are independent of the audited entity and are protected against outside influence. The importance of independent SAIs is also underlined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contained in the United Nations Agenda 2030 and adopted in September 2015. Goal 16 of the SDGs provides for the building of “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Target 16.6, which aims at developing “effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels,” is of particular importance for the contribution of independent SAIs to sustainable development. In reality, many SAIs in the INTOSAI community still fall well short of the level of institutional capacity and independence defined in the Mexico Declaration. (Institutional Capacity is not defined in the Mexico declaration).

Much work has already been done to promote independence, especially by the INTOSAI General Secretariat, some INTOSAI regions, some SAIs providing bilateral support and other development partners. However, as the 2014 IDI Global Survey indicates SAIs continue to face challenges in terms of their independence.

Given SAI needs and the importance of this issue to the effectiveness of SAIs, IDI has initiated this programme to contribute to the ongoing efforts. This write up describes the pilot programme that will be launched in 2016. The objective of the programme is ‘greater SAI independence’. The programme is expected to run from 2016- 2018.

Programme Objective

Support SAIs in achieving "greater independence". Independence is an evolving construct and a continuous work stream for an SAI. With this programme, IDI intend to support SAIs towards implementing the 8 principles of ISSAI 10 within their context.

Participating SAIs

Advocate SAI independence- to be done in all INTOSAI Regions.

The practical guidance on moving towards greater SAI Independence will be made available for all SAIs in all INTOSAI Regions.

SAI level support – IDI plans to provide SAI level support on a pilot basis to three SAIs who seek to strengthen their independence. The SAIs to be supported will be selected on the basis of the following five specific criteria:

• SAI leadership and commitment
• Need an opportunity to change
• Potential for lessons learned
• The level of influence
• Distribution – Regional representation, SAIs with different audit models and SAIs at different levels of independence would be considered

Cooperating Partners

•  Ministry of Foreign Affairs France

Programme Implementation Strategy

In order to reach this objective, The IDI has envisaged the following implementation framework which will be delivered at global and SAI level:

Implementation Strategy

  1. Guidance on SAI independence
    As a part of this programme, the IDI plans to build on and bring together the work done by many stakeholders to provide practical guidance on moving towards greater SAI independence. The Guidance has been developed by a global team of resource persons between June 2016 and March 2017 and is currently under review. It covers the following areas:
    1. Establish a global baseline of SAI independence
    2. Guidance on developing a strategy to enhance SAI’s current level of independence
    3. Interpretation guidance on ISSAI 10 ( Mexico + ) and model draft legislation
    4. Guidance on stakeholder engagement
  2. Advocate SAI independence
    IDI will contribute to ongoing advocacy efforts by supporting the value and benefits of SAIs at all the fora to which IDI is invited. IDI will also facilitate global, regional and local meetings with stakeholders to advocate SAI Independence.
    At the INCOSAI 2016, IDI has raised awareness about this programme through breakaway sessions and in the activities and information provided at booths.
    IDI will provide capacity development support through guidance and training for SAI teams and INTOSAI regions to enhance their advocacy and lobbying skills.
    Members of the High-Level Advisory Panel for SAI independence would be called upon to advocate for SAI independence at global and regional level. They could also be invited to join country level advocacy missions in the SAIs supported through this programme.
  3. SAI level support
    IDI is currently providing support to three SAIs, namely SAI Gabon, SAI Papua New Guinea, and SAI Suriname in their quest for greater independence.
    IDI has currently defined this pilot within a 2018 timeframe. However, IDI fully recognizes that helping an SAI gain greater independence is a long-term engagement. The timeframe will be reviewed at a later date depending on the status in 2018.
    Each selected SAI will sign a statement of commitment together with IDI and the region. In their journey to SAI independence, the selected SAIs will be supported to develop and implement a strategy to achieve greater independence, taking into account the SAI’s needs and the country environment.
    Further support will be provided based on the strategy of the SAI, its own capacity and level of independence. To the extent possible the SAI leadership will be encouraged to work on its own, with the IDI playing a facilitator role.

SAI Independence Rapid Advocacy Mechanism

Independence is a critical prerequisite for any SAI to carry out its mandate. The independence of a SAI from the executive bodies it audits is fundamental to its role in public accountability and in building trust between the state and society. The essential role of SAI independence has been clearly established by INTOSAI in the Lima and Mexico Declarations, and confirmed in United Nations resolutions 66/209 and 69/228. These resolutions call on member states to promote the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration by strengthening SAIs, and specifically SAI independence.

Unfortunately, evidence shows that levels of financial and operational independence are low and declining in many parts of the world. SAI Heads face reduced protection from unjust removal; SAIs face increased executive interference in their budgets;SAI audit reports are not followed up;and SAIs face restrictions in publishing the results of their audits.

Given these realities, SAI independence has been made a priority in both the INTOSAI and IDI Strategic Plans and is high on the agenda of Development Partners. IDI has dedicated a work stream to support Independent SAIs andis working to scale-up its support for SAI independence globally. This includes stepping up IDI’s advocacy, raising awareness of threats toand breaches of SAI independence and brokering support for SAIs facing challenges to their independence. IDI plans to receive, review, and respond to these threats/breaches through the SAI Independence Rapid Advocacy Mechanism (SIRAM).

SIRAM will help the INTOSAI and donor communities deliver timely and effective responses to political developments or legal reforms which may negatively affect the independence of a SAI. Such threats may manifest themselves through amendmentsto a country’s constitution, changes to the budget or audit law, attempts to remove the Head(s) of the SAI,delays or interference in theappointment of the Head of SAIor even proposed abolitionor downgradingof the SAI itself. Through SIRAM, IDI, INTOSAI, Development Partners and other stakeholders can work together to organise advocacy and response solutions that will help support SAIs in maintaining and securing their independence. Elements of SIRAM have been piloted in 2019 in North Macedonia and Somalia with success, and will now be standardised.

SIRAMi s divided into four stages: 1) Information gathering, 2) Assess, 3) Respond, and 4) Follow-up. The first stageis the initialinformation-gathering where IDI will do a preliminary review of the reported or identified threat/breach of one of the eight pillars of SAI independence as outlined in the Mexico Declaration (ISSAI-P 10) to establish whether it is a genuine and real, and deliver an preliminary conclusion within 15 days. If the preliminary review concludes that the threat/breach is genuine and real, IDI will reach out to the SAI in question (if not already done). Advocacy support under the SIRAM can be provided only if the SAI facing the breach/threat requests or agrees to the support.

Once approval comes from the SAI, the information gatheringstage is complete, andthe process continues to the assessment phase (stage 2).In this stage, IDI will work with the SAI and external stakeholders, where appropriate, to further review the breach/threat, understand its specific nature and context, and develop a response strategy.The IDI aspires to complete this within 30 days of receiving the initial report. In the response stage (stage 3), IDI and stakeholders will work with the SAI to take concrete action against the breach/threat, based on the results from the assessment. Potential responses can include, but are not limited to:issuance of statements to relevant authorities, provision of targeted advocacy supportat the country, global or regional levels, in-country missionstoengage with stakeholders, and support in drafting legal provisions for relevant acts and regulations. These responses may come from IDI, or from stakeholders, depending on the situation, and will be issued in agreement with the threatened SAI.If a SAIIndependence Ambassador (being discussed in the INTOSAI-Donor Cooperation) is appointed, he/she could be a valuable partner in the various responses.

After the initial response(s), the follow-up stage (stage 4) will ensure that IDI and other relevant stakeholders remain involved in the quest of or long-term maintenance of the SAI’s independence. In some cases, follow-up may entail long-term engagement between IDI, Development Partners,the SAIand potential other stakeholders.

pdf Download the SAI Independence Rapid Advocacy Mechanism ToRs (231 KB)

If you are aware of a threat to a SAI's independence, please contact our team.

Programme team

Ola Hoem Deputy Director General SAI Governance Department This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Freddy Njemba Manager SAI Governance Department This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fatima Doghman Senior Coordinator Administration This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.