The National Audit Office (NAO) has the mandate to audit financial systems of all public bodies in Mauritius. This includes ministries/department, parastatal bodies, special funds set up by Government, local authorities and international organizations.
Auditees were getting computerized. Some clients were providing access rights to our audit staff to work but it was quite difficult for our staff to understand different systems of accounting at start to carry out our audit and to give assurance on the financial statements. At times we were afraid of having different sets of financial statements with varying figures provided to us. International Standards of Standards (ISA) require auditor to assess the controls and risks in the computer environment and also to use computer assisted audit tools to better analyse the data so as to detect more critical transactions and to better understand the transactions of the organization. Reputational risks for us as auditors were high and we had to input more time to play safe.
ISA also require us to use proper audit methodology to carry out our audit functions and also to apply risk based audit (RBA) methodology. We have adopted the regulatory audit methodology of the AFROSAI-e but we need to simplify it for users’ comforts.
We were also required to audit accounts prepared in line with IFRS (international Financial Reporting Standards). We were required to implement a Quality Assurance Function in our organization.
The Financial Reporting Council was responsible to review our audit working paper files.
Standards of Accounting and Corporate Governance.
Some parliamentarians were even asking questions of who were auditing the NAO’s financial statements and if were outside parliamentarian controls. To prove good governance, we had to prepare our annual financial statements in line with IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards) and produce necessary reports as evidence of good governance.
The challenge was for the NAO to invest in information and communication technology in 2005, train and coach our people in using information technology and data mining tools, in information security audit, make internet accessible to all staff throughout the office, create an intranet with a knowledge hub with a virtual library, acquire ERP software, etc. We had also to provide training to our staff on IFRS, ISA, IPSAS and risk based audit.
Communication with Stakeholders.
Initially, we could lay five copies of our annual reports in the Legislative Assembly; users, such as parliamentarians, the press, Accounting Officers of Ministries, the press, NGO etc to go to the library of the Parliaments to have access to the Audit Reports. That was prior to 2004.
Bilateral Professional Assistance.
Several NAOs (Supreme Audit Institutions) in Africa as well as the Internal Controllers of the Ministry of Finance of Mauritius are short of knowledge in the above fields.