Audit Scotland’s work attracts interest from across the world. Whether it’s financial devolution, auditing local government, or data visualisation, we’re pleased to share our knowledge and expertise with delegates from overseas.
As an organisation that strives to be world class and improve the use of public money, we recognise that to achieve this, we need to learn what works well elsewhere and challenge ourselves in the work we do. All our international work has an important contribution to make to support this vision.
In February 2021, our Audit Director Gillian Woolman delivered a presentation in a virtual seminar to Montenegrin parliamentarians and public auditors on good practice in public audit. Gillian’s talk covered the role of public audit in mature democracies, and how Audit Scotland works with the Scottish Parliament and the bodies we audit. She also shared recent examples of our work where we have helped public bodies improve.
We were invited to deliver the presentation by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), an agency of the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office tasked with supporting democracy throughout the world, following previous work we have done with WFD in Montenegro.
Young European Supreme Audit Institutions Conference, London
In November 2019, Wojciech Kuzma, Senior Auditor, and Kerry Macleod, Audit Officer, attended the fourth annual Young European Supreme Audit Institutions Conference in London.
The theme was ‘the relevance of audit’ and it focused on identifying challenges, how to manage and overcome them, with national institutions putting on workshops to share insights and good practice.
The Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic shared an interesting example where they developed a digital peer-to-peer network for auditors to share knowledge, experience and practice.
Conference heard from a variety of excellent speakers, including: Meg Hillier Chair of the UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee; Lord Bichard and Gareth Davies, Chair, and Comptroller & Auditor General, National Audit Office respectively; and Seyit Ahmet Baş, President of the Turkish Court of Accounts and EUROSAI (European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions).
Discussions with delegates revealed how differently the profession is regulated in other European countries but the importance of trust and timely reporting was fundamental for all.
The conference was extremely useful, giving us new ideas and approaches to the issues we face, which we’ve been able to share with colleagues and clients since.
During September we welcomed delegations from the Shanghai Municipal Audit Bureau, the Giangxi Audit Bureau, China’s Ministry of Finance, and the China National Audit Office. The focus of these meetings was on financial audit, and we learned that China is moving to a system of accrual accounting. There was much interest in how we audit performance and how public services deliver better outcomes for people and communities. It was really valuable for all our organisations to share our experience and find common ground in how we approach our work.
Georgia and Australia
In June 2019 we hosted two meetings with colleagues from Georgia and Australia. First, we met with Giorgi Bobghiashvili from the Administration of the Government of Georgia. His visit was part of a fellowship programme sponsored by the John Smith Memorial Trust to promote good governance and develop a new generation of young leaders in Georgia. Giorgi met with our colleagues Mark MacPherson and Erin McGinley to discuss how Audit Scotland assesses the performance of Scotland’s public bodies and how they contribute to the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives. This interesting discussion explored the universal challenges of auditing outcomes.
That week we also met with representatives from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament of Western Australia in Perth (above). We spoke about how Audit Scotland works with the Scottish Parliament and its public audit committee. The meeting helped to inform PAC’s inquiry into public sector contract management. We welcomed the in-depth discussion on topics including digital services and capital project management. And for us, it was really valuable to hear about issues and practice in Australia.
Some of our previous activity
EURORAI International Seminar, Warsaw
Peter Worsdale attended the European Organization of Regional Audit Institutions (EURORAI) International Seminar on the theme 'Audit of Public Debt' on 17 May in Warsaw. The event gave a useful context for us developing our audit of Scotland’s new financial powers. It covered themes of austerity in public services, and the audit of long-term debt, and highlighted important lessons including regulating public debt, the dangers of ‘hidden debt’, and the risks of over-complex loan instruments. It also raised the concept of ‘inter-generational justice’ to avoid burdening future generations with our debt.
Republic of North Macedonia
In March 2019, we were working with our colleagues from the Republic of North Macedonia’s State Audit Office (SAO). Mark Roberts, Senior Audit Manager, Audit Scotland, met with their SAO as part of a project to increase the impact of their audit work, and we also welcomed senior representatives from the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia who were keen to hear more about our public scrutiny and financial oversight role.
EURORAI International Seminar in Székesfehérvár
The European Organisation of Regional External Public Finance Audit Institutions (EURORAI) invited us to speak at their October seminar in Székesfehérvár in Hungary. The focus was on the audit of companies owned by local authorities. The event was attended by some 150 delegates coming from 25 different countries. Peter Worsdale and Derek Hoy of Audit Scotland spoke about our recent performance audit, Councils' use of arm's-length organisations. This was Audit Scotland’s first national performance audit on this topic.
Armenia, Chinese Ministry of Finance and Jiangxi Provincial Audit Office
In September 2018, we met with a delegation of auditors and accountants from China’s Jiangxi Provincial Audit Office, who were very interested to find out more about our role, including our environmental audit work, and we hosted China’s Ministry of Finance who were visiting the UK to look at good practice in public audit. We also met with members of parliament and officials from the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. They were also keen to learn good practice to help them develop their own audit committee.
"Presenting to overseas delegates has improved my presentation skills as it really made me think about the best way to explain and share data and information."
Sharing knowledge and expertise
We are keen to share our expertise and knowledge with overseas public bodies and audit institutions. We also want to challenge our own way of working, share ideas and learn from others. Please get in touch with our International Liaison Manager, Parminder Singh, if you would like to learn more about public audit in Scotland and share areas of interest with us. We will always try, where possible, to accommodate requests for any such exchanges or visits to Audit Scotland. To help us deal with your request, please contact us as early as possible.
You can read more about our organisation here and see our current areas of focus in our forward work programme. You can also read more about learning and sharing from across the globe in our blog.