Cooperation between Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) in conducting environmental audits has become more and more common in recent years for good reason: There are many benefits, for both the institutions and the environment. For the institutions, cooperative audits facilitate mutual sharing and learning, capacity building, networking, and identification of best practices. For the environment, many environmental problems transcend political boundaries. Thus, combining forces through cooperative environmental audits allows SAIs to take a broader view of the situation, to consider the various upstream and downstream impacts of domestic actions, and to benchmark best practices.
There are many models of and approaches to cooperative audits. They are applicable to a variety of situations, including the audit of international and regional environmental agreements, of shared physical resources (for example, watersheds), and of shared environmental problems (for example, domestic waste management). SAIs now have gained considerable experience in what works, what doesn’t work, and how best to ensure success.
The paper entitled Cooperation between Supreme Audit Institutions: Tips and Examples for Cooperative Audits responds to the ongoing demand for information and ideas on how to make cooperation work effectively. Reflecting the real-world experience of practitioners from some 29 SAIs, the paper provides practical advice and tips through each phase of the audit cycle.
While the examples in this paper are drawn from cooperative environmental audits, the tips have been generalized to make them broadly applicable to cooperative audits of any topic and perhaps also to cooperation with local or regional audit institutions. Tip 1 Communicate! is essential advice that readers will find reiterated throughout the paper.
This paper was co-led by the Supreme Chamber of Control of the Republic of Poland and The Netherlands Court of Audit. In particular, I would like to thank Rob de Bakker and Arien Blees-Booij from the Netherlands and Ewa Borkowska-Domanska and Monika Skrzypiec from Poland for all of their hard work and efforts in preparing this document. My thanks also goes to the many other organizations and individuals who contributed to this paper (see Acknowledgments).
I believe this paper will facilitate future cooperation between SAIs and enhance the effectiveness of their initiatives.
Cooperation between Supreme Audit Institutions: Tips and Examples for Cooperative Audits is one of four guidance papers developed by the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing (WGEA) in the Work Plan period 2005–2007. The other three papers are:
• Evolution and Trends in Environmental Auditing,
• Auditing Biodiversity: Guidance for Supreme Audit Institutions, and
• The World Summit on Sustainable Development: An Audit Guide for Supreme Audit Institutions.
Readers are encouraged to consult these papers as well as Appendix 4 of this paper for information on other WGEA products and services.