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Capacity building for performance audits

The Netherlands Court of Audit believes it is important to support other SAIs in their efforts to conform with international auditing standards and to enhance public accountability, public financial management and transparancy in government in other respective countries. One of our priorities is to provide capacity building in the field of performance auditing.

Vision of the development of performance auditing

  • We believe the development of performance auditing has a long learning curve. It is a process in which audit complexity and scope gradually increase. We therefore think that training in performance auditing should commence with a simple, well-defined and small-scale pilot audit. The experience that is gained can then be applied in more complex pilot audits.
  • When selecting the subject for a performance audit we give priority to focus and added value: audits must produce new information and new insights.
  • We believe the entire policy chain is relevant to performance auditing. This requires an insight into the field and the actors. We therefore recognise the importance of:

     - observing the audit subject
     - engaging experts and key figures
     - consulting experts in the field. Interviewing techniques and 
       networking skills are necessary for this.

  • We think performance auditing should culminate in meaningful recommendations. To this end we encourage auditors to explain why policy is not efficient or not effective.
  • We give special emphasis to the impact of audits and audit findings. We use a variety of channels to communicate the audit message to relevant target groups.



About capacity building

The Court of Audit has developed a method to increase the internal and external effectiveness of SAIs. The key elements of our method are:

  • We base our relationship with colleagues abroad on trust, both at management level and at auditor level. We see our relationship as peers working towards the same goals.We think cooperation and learning are most effective if they are based on equality and mutual respect.
  • Our capacity building in the field of performance auditing is demand driven: we tailor our work to fit the recipient's abilities and needs. Experience has taught us that the auditing profession is relatively uniform and speaks the same language worldwide. Yet there are differences in the audit approach and methods used by SAIs. The differences are not only culturally determined but are also due to an SAI's constitutional position.
  • We create a safe learning environment and aim to strengthen the auditors' self-confidence. An informal environment wherein doubts can be expressed, questions raised and errors made, as long as lessons are learned.
  • We believe in learning by coaching. We want auditors to realise that performance auditing constantly calls for independent thought. It also requires practical and operational choices that manuals cannot always foresee. Our approach also allows auditors to depart from the manual where necessary and justifiable.
  • Our approach is to develop self-aware ambassadors who pass on the knowledge they gain both inside and outside their own organisations. We recognise the importance of strengthening self-confidence and improving presentation skills.

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