Evaluating External Government Audit
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This rapid literature review of primary and grey sources found substantial evidence of the merits of donor support to Public Financial Management (PFM) initiatives but no specific evidence assessing donor support for external government audit, such as Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). PFM reforms are established as being generally beneficial, assist in reducing or preventing corruption, increasing transparency and accountability, as well as improving service delivery quality, although the exact impacts are difficult to measure. Performance auditing has recently attracted more attention than traditional financial or compliance auditing and is seen by many sources to be conducive to improving accountability, although compliance and financial auditing are still viewed as the core of external audit. There is a substantial body of literature on donor-assisted PFM reforms but a paucity of focused study or discussion of donor support to external audit specifically. This evidence gap may be due to the cost of examining the narrow focus required on donor-assisted external audit specifically. This is compounded by the complexity of gathering a sufficiently large database through surveys combined with the lack of access (for individual academics) to official datasets across countries. Furthermore, measuring the impact of SAIs, for example, is difficult due to the variety of regulatory structures that exist, inhibiting comparative cross-country studies, which has resulted in a preference for in-depth analyses. Only multilateral institutions have conducted comprehensive cross-country surveys. However, the evidence does show that strengthened PFM systems and SAIs,1 if they are independent and fully resourced, increase transparency and accountability, helping to combat corruption, when governments are made answerable to their audit findings. The evidence on the effectiveness of SAIs (against corruption) is mixed and not as strong as for PFM reforms in general. The impact of PFM interventions in preventing or reducing corruption increases when reforms are sector-specific and complemented by societal awareness initiatives, citizen participation, and infomediary advocacy. This finding seems applicable to SAIs as the discourse is increasingly on improving comprehension of audit reports and wider dissemination to relevant stakeholders.
CitationKhan, M. (2022). Evaluating External Government Audit. K4D Helpdesk Report No.1228. Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2022.140
Is part of seriesK4D Helpdesk Report;1228
Rights holder© Crown copyright 2022
SponsorForeign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
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