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February 24, 2011

Want to Learn Cool Acronyms? Let’s talk about ISSAI (and INTOSAI GOV)

Posted by Franck Bessette

As part of the Johannesburg Accords signed in November 2010, the XXth INCOSAI (500 delegates from 152 Supreme Audit Institutions), the Congress of INTOSAI, the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions, emphasized the importance of the ISSAIs (International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions) and INTOSAI GOVs by issuing the “South African Declaration on International Standards for SAIs”. With the adoption of over 40 new ISSAIs and INTOSAI GOVs, INTOSAI now – for the first time – has a comprehensive framework of international auditing standards, which the individual SAIs can use as a reference point for their activities. INCOSAI also underlined the need to use and apply these standards and guidelines in a practical context.

Still here? Well, then, you might be happy to know that while the ISSAIs state the basic prerequisites for the proper functioning and professional conduct of Supreme Audit Institutions and the fundamental principles in auditing of public entities, the INTOSAI Guidance for Good Governance (INTOSAI GOV) are providing guidance to public authorities on the proper administration of public funds. More on this at www.issai.org

Some of you might already worry: Are these standards different from the ISA (International Standards on Audit) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standard Board (IAASB)? Well, let’s say that as much as the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) are in coherence with IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) issued by IFAC (International Federation of Accountants), ISSAIs are in coherence with ISAs. Besides, Practice Notes are developed by the PSC-FAS (Financial Audit Subcommittee of the Professional Standards Committee) to provide relevant guidance on applying the ISAs in audits of financial statements of public sector entities, in addition to what is provided in the ISA.

This evolution, which started a few years ago, is a major step forward. External audit was so far lacking specific international norms and standards and was relying mainly on the Lima Declaration of 1977 (http://www.issai.org/media(622,1033)/ISSAI_1_E.pdf) which was laying out major principles in fairly broad terms.

 Well, I encourage you to explore the fascinating world of ISSAIs and INTOSAI GOV by yourself. A good overview of the standards is provided here.

Note: The posts on the IMF PFM Blog should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.

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