Comptroller General Covid-19 Lessons Learned Discussion Group meeting
On May 25, 2021, the first meeting of Covid-19 Lessons Learned Discussion Group was held under the leadership of the Comptroller General of the United States.
Speaking with a welcoming speech, the head of the SAI US Gene Dodaro thanked the international audit community for the active participation in the INTOSAI COVID-19 Initiative. He noted that the main purpose of establishing the Discussion Group is to share knowledge and discuss best practices in combating the pandemic with the involvement of INTOSAI community experts and interested stakeholders from other international organizations.
“Starting June last year, GAO has issued more than 70 recommendations on how to improve the COVID-19 response to ensure transparency and accountability of government agencies. However, not all SAIs have acted effectively. We have the opportunity to benefit from our collective knowledge and experience to cope with the effects of the pandemic. SAIs are able to play a leading role in emergency preparedness, navigating and oversight of measures taken by the government,”
– he said.
In round-robin format, representatives of SAIs and international organizations made comments on the report "Initial Lessons Learned from the International Auditing Community" prepared under the INTOSAI COVID-19 Initiative led by PFAC.
Silke Steiner, representative of the INTOSAI General Secretariat, noted that the crisis was a real shock for the world community, but proved that transparency and accountability are necessary to ensure the resilient and stable functioning of the state system.
“The SAI was able to respond quickly to the crisis and adapt its audit programs. However, mechanisms for transparency and accountability must be established at an early stage when economic conditions are still favorable. In the post-crisis period, we need to assess what needs to be improved to prepare for a future crisis,”
– she added.
Head of the Division for Cooperation with INTOSAI and other International organizations of the Department for International and Regional Cooperation Yaroslav Yalovenko presented the position of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation and shared the results of the International Scientific and Practical Conference under the leadership of the INTOSAI Chairman.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, the international audit community managed to successfully synchronize their actions. It led to Recommendations to the Governing Board developed by the SCEI Expert Group on COVID-19. We find it important that all INTOSAI initiatives complement each other. The poll conducted by the ACRF as the chairman of the Expert Group showed that 74% of all respondents support the initiative to create an INTOSAI Working group that will conduct audits in the field of health care, social security and social protection."
The meeting participants confirmed the relevance of the lessons fixed in the report and pointed out issues requiring further consideration. The problems of government data management, distrust of citizens, independence of SAIs, inter-institutional cooperation were highlighted as priorities.
The head of the UK National Audit Office, Gareth Davis, drew attention to the interaction of the central government and local authorities:
“Even in such a relatively small country like the UK, we have had significant difficulties with the distribution of responsibilities. Some of the tasks that were best addressed at the local level were handled centrally, and vice versa. Understanding and clearly assigning responsibilities between different levels of government is essential to mitigate and minimize similar situations in the future.”
All key points will be included in the final document, which will be presented to the members of the group in the near future.