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.
Republic of North Macedonia
This March we have been working with our colleagues from the Republic of North Macedonia’s State Audit Office (SAO). The work is part of the West Balkans Democracy Initiative funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. This aims to help state institutions apply good practice from other countries to improve public spending and improve democratic participation.
Mark Roberts, Senior Audit Manager, Audit Scotland, met with their SAO as part of a project to increase the impact of their audit work. This involved sharing our own good practice in how we report our messages clearly to reach different audiences.
In tandem with this, we also welcomed senior representatives from the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia (main photo above). They were keen to hear more about our public scrutiny and financial oversight role. We had a productive and engaging meeting and really welcomed their interest and probing questions. The Assembly also met with the Scottish Parliament to find out about their budget office, something they plan to emulate in North Macedonia.
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.
We talked about the reasons councils use such companies, their performance, and good practice in how they are managed. One striking difference between us and our European partners was that our public audit function does not audit these bodies directly. Instead, we audit how councils account for, and manage their relationship with these bodies (which themselves are subject to companies and charity law). This contrasts with practice by European audit bodies who can carry out financial, compliance and performance audits directly on these bodies.
We really welcomed the EURORAI seminar to reflect on our audit approach and learn of practice elsewhere. We are grateful to the State Audit Office of Hungary for their generous hosting of the event in the beautiful town of Székesfehérvár, and of course to EURORAI for their excellent organisation.
Armenia, Chinese Ministry of Finance and Jiangxi Provincial Audit Office
We have had much interest in our work recently from overseas. In September we hosted delegations from China and Armenia. They were keen to find out more about public audit in Scotland, including how we work with the Scottish Parliament:
- 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.
- We hosted China’s Ministry of Finance who were visiting the UK to look at good practice in public audit.
- We 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.
We had good discussions at these meetings, taking lots of searching questions, for example:
- How does Audit Scotland remain independent when it is funded through government?
- How is local government independent when it doesn’t raise all its own funding?
- Is it possible for audit bodies like ourselves to keep up with cyber-crime?
Meeting colleagues from the Ministry of Finance, China
The discussions were useful for the delegations to compare their approach with ours. And they were useful for us too to get a fresh perspective on our work. Despite the different context in which we operate there was much common ground. The purpose of public audit to safeguard public money and to help services improve certainly seems to be universal.
Some of our previous activity
Australia – International Meeting of Performance Audit Critical Thinkers (IMPACT) Conference
In March 2018 we were invited to speak at the IMPACT Conference, which is Australia’s largest annual performance audit conference. Fraser McKinlay, Director of Performance Audit and Best Value (top left), spoke to delegates about the “Future of Performance Audit”. The conference was an important opportunity to network with colleagues from audit institutions with a similar approach to Audit Scotland and share insights on a range of topics including citizen-centred auditing and cybersecurity.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Auditors Alliance
In January we joined the OECD Auditors Alliance, a new forum designed to bring together auditors from across the world to share best practice and support improved financial and performance auditing. Alongside 300 auditors from 53 countries, Antony Clark and Gillian Woolman attended its inaugural meeting in March.
Pakistan – Parliament of Pakistan and their Provincial Assemblies
In January 2018, we had the opportunity to talk about all things scrutiny when we met with a delegation from the Parliament of Pakistan and their Provincial Assemblies at the Scottish Parliament. Asif Haseeb (second left) and Gordon Smail (fourth left) gave delegates an insight into Audit Scotland’s roles and responsibilities and how we report to the Scottish Parliament.
China - Visit by the Guangzhou Audit Bureau
In October 2017, we got the opportunity to talk about all things environmental when a delegation from the Guangzhou Audit Bureau paid a visit to our Edinburgh office. Colleagues from the Performance Audit and Best Value Team met with the delegation to discuss our corporate approach to climate change and share information about proposed audit work in this important area.
"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."
Interested in a study visit to Audit Scotland?
"We are keen to share our expertise and knowledge with overseas public bodies and audit institutions who have an interest in our work. We also want to challenge our own way of working, share ideas and learn from other approaches to audit"
Think about what you’d like to learn about public audit in Scotland and what you can share with us, then get in touch with our International Liaison Manager, Peter Worsdale.