Posted by Lewis Kabayiza Murara
Uncommon to countries applying the Westminster model of external auditing, the practice of ex-ante audits is not so rare to those following the Napoleonic (or judicial) model of public sector auditing. The Spanish world has also long known the practice of pre-expenditure audits, sometimes by multiple institutions. Ex-ante audits in their most common form mean that the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) is responsible for checking and giving prior approval to certain types of public expenditure.
In countries following the Westminster model, the auditor role may in some cases be combined with that of comptroller, and authorization to spend may be released before payments are made by budget entities. In countries applying the Napoleonic model of external auditing, particularly Belgium, Italy, Portugal and some of their former colonies, it is common for SAIs to issue prior approval before individual payments are made. The difference between the pre-approval practice in the Napoleonic model and the comptroller role in the Westminster model is that the former is a transaction-based, detailed review of certain types of expenditure, while the latter is performed at a higher, aggregate level which does not involve detailed reviews of individual expenditure items. Authorization may involve approval of funds release from the consolidated fund to departmental accounts for a certain period, per expenditure type.