Independent SAIs Work Stream

An independent SAI is a key pillar of national integrity and governance systems. The independence of an SAI from the executive bodies it audits is fundamental to its role in public accountability and in building trust between the organs of the state and society. Yet evidence shows that levels of financial and operational independence are low, and declining, in many regions of the world. SAI Heads face reduced protection from unjust removal; SAIs face increased interference in their budgets from the executive; and many SAIs face restrictions in deciding the scope and publishing the results of their work. 

The principles of SAI independence are laid down in the INTOSAI Lima and Mexico declarations. This work stream will support INTOSAI’s efforts in “advocating for and supporting the Independence of SAIs” as a cross-cutting priority in its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan. Under its 2014-18 strategic plan, IDI began to pilot support for SAI independence. Under the current strategic plan, support will be scaled-up, to combine both global support and advocacy with enhanced support to more SAIs to strengthen their independence.

Independent SAIs Work Stream Components

Component 1: Global Advocacy And Support For Independent SAIs

GLOBAL ADVOCACY AND SUPPORT FOR INDEPENDENT SAIs 

Raising awareness of the importance of and challenges to SAI independence are pivotal in creating an environment for change. Adoption of the UN Resolutions A/66/209 and A/66/228 have provided IDI and the INTOSAI Community with a tool to put SAI independence on the global agenda. In addition, shortcomings in the status of independence have been highlighted in the 2014 and 2017 Global SAI Stocktaking Reports. IDI’s advocacy for SAI independence will focus on: 

a. Demonstrating the Value and Benefits of independent SAIs in strengthening accountability, transparency and integrity. 

IDI will work globally with key partners including INTOSAI, the UN, donors, parliamentary bodies, and civil society organisations (CSOs) to raise the topic of SAI independence on the global agenda. IDI will seek to ensure decision makers and influencers at the global, regional and country-levels understand the importance of SAI independence as an enabler of improved public accountability. 

b. Establishing a knowledge function on SAI independence to analyse global and regional trends and learn lessons. 

IDI is in a unique position to systematically collect, analyse and disseminate data on the status of SAI Independence over time. IDI will seek to maintain and strengthen information sharing regarding the development of SAI Independence, to enable a more informed and effective approach to strengthening SAI independence worldwide. 

c. Mobilising rapid advocacy support to SAIs facing threats or challenges to their independence. 

Once secured, SAI independence needs to be sustained. The political and institutional landscapes in all countries are in a constant state of flux, often posing new threats to SAI independence. These threats can manifest quickly through changes to a country’s constitution, budget or audit laws, or through attempts to remove the Head(s) of the SAI or proposals to abolish the SAI itself. IDI will therefore develop its capacity to assist SAIs experiencing threats to their independence. This will include establishing and maintaining information channels to keep alert to threats to SAI independence, and developing a support service able to rapidly mobilise advocacy support to SAIs. Such advocacy support would involve bringing together global, regional and country actors to ensure a coordinated and coherent response to threats to SAI independence.

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