Investigating tools to strengthen integrity in SAIs and the public sector in Mexico
By Sarah Markley, PASAI’s Deputy Secretary-General
At the beginning of July, I had the privilege of representing PASAI and New Zealand’s Office of the Auditor-General at a meeting of the IntoSAINT (International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions Self-Assessment Integrity) working group in Mexico City. The SAI of Mexico is the chair of the IntoSAINT working group and they were supported to host the meeting by funding from the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee.
It was a fabulous trip in all respects – especially in regards to hearing all the latest about the INTOSAI Self-assessment of Integrity tool, IntoSAINT.
IntoSAINT is a self-assessment tool that all SAIs and other public entities can use for analysing integrity risks and assessing the maturity of their integrity management systems. The self-assessment is conducted during a structured two-day workshop. Moderated by a trained facilitator, the workshop evaluates the perceptions and experiences of a cross-section of staff related to integrity systems of the organisation. At the end, the facilitator provides management recommendations for better supporting the integrity of the organisation in question. The organisation gets a great base on which to further develop and refine its integrity policy, while, at the same time, staff benefit by learning about integrity awareness.
The IntoSAINT tool fits with the SAI Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) assessment, referred to in SAI 4(i). If you use the IntoSAINT tool, your SAI PMF score will improve. It is also compatible with the INTOSAI Development Initiative ‘SAIs fighting corruption’ programme that is already underway in the PASAI region. In addition, the IntoSAINT tool provides a way to carry out the assessment of integrity that is now required, so that a SAI can assert that it is fully compliant with the ISSAI 30 Code of Ethics for SAIs.
The tool was originally developed by the Netherlands Court of Audit about eight years ago, to enable public sector entities to evaluate the integrity risks and the maturity of integrity systems and controls. It has been used in SAIs across the globe, in both developing and developed countries, and OLACAFs and the SAI of Mexico have also had a good level of uptake in public sector organisations.
The results will vary significantly depending on the maturity of the systems and controls already in place. One of the things I think is particularly effective about the tool is that it cuts through the “tick box” approach to assessing what integrity controls are in place, and enables an evaluation of whether the controls are operating effectively. For example, an organisation may have a code of conduct, conflict of interest policy, rotation policy or a gift declaration policy. However, does a cross-section of employees feel that these are applied equally to all staff?
The working group spent time at the meeting considering how to further improve the tool, drawing on the experiences over recent years and bringing together materials that have developed into a revised set of programme resources. The goal of the working group is to see the tool formally endorsed at INCOSAI 2019.
In the PASAI region, integrity system maturity may vary widely, but there is a consistent drive to improve. The New Zealand Government strongly encourages the development of good governance systems in the Pacific, and it supported our participation in this meeting primarily with the goal of evaluating whether the tool could be a worthwhile addition to PASAI’s toolbox.
I was really impressed by the achievement in other regions as a result of using the IntoSAINT tool. I think it could be very valuable in the PASAI region and could also be useful to test the quality of New Zealand’s own already highly developed integrity systems.
Of course, rolling out anything in PASAI is dependent on funding – so gauging the interest of PASAI member organisations and then seeking funding partners will be critical to bringing PASAI into the IntoSAINT programme.
I will be presenting more information about IntoSAINT at the upcoming PASAI Governing Board and Congress in August and holding discussions with our twinning partners about their interest in the tool.
My thanks to MFAT and their funding that enables New Zealand to support PASAI and enabled me to participate in this meeting, and also to SAI Mexico for being such gracious hosts and enthusiastic champions for improving integrity in our SAIs and our public sector entities.
In addition to being PASAI's Deputy Secretary-General, Sarah Markley is a Sector Manager, Local Government, in the Office of the Auditor-General of New Zealand.