NAO Mauritius
National Audit Office

The Problem

Audit Mandate.
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.

Computerised Systems.

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.

Audit Methodology.

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.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
In 2004, we introduced a paperless audit software (TeamMate) and a CAAT . We invested in IT infrastructure to have our network, server, and laptops and PCs for our auditors. We brought in internet, intranet and e-mail facilities to all staff.

We put people first to acquire knowledge and skills to use IT hardware and software. There was little reluctance to change. But with a humane approach, the change process was not long to make success possible. Staff were trained and coached and followed up.

The NAO was even awarded the National ICT Award in 2006 for the whole of the public sector, within a year from getting computerized and to making the NAO doing all audit assignments using computerized facilities and in a paperless environment.

In view to build further NAO capacity for information systems audit, this year we took the lead to professionalise our staff. We supported our 47 out of 140 audit staff to embark on the CISA December 2011 Examinations. Our staff are more confident to do IS audit and NAO is becoming more successful to adhere to ISA.

Our staff have used also ICT for enhancing their knowledge and to share amongst fellow friends. We hosted a virtual library for all documents on IS audit and audit materials. Staff have been doing research through the local server via internet to acquire new knowledge and by using broadband facilities if they are outside the NAO.

Expert trainers and in house resource persons and the above ICT tools were instrumental for training and coaching for IFRS, ISA, RBA, forensic audit, fraud audit, etc to ensure knowledge management in the NAO.

To improve service delivery, our staff were more efficient to carry out audit functions from planning to finalization. Divisional managers can easily review audit files more regularly as staff do merge their audit projects files on the NAO server every 5 to 10 working days. Reports are auto generated from the systems that enable us to review and issue audit report during the audit period and to have auditees response more promptly. This has much eased relationship amongst the Audit Manager, the audit team and with auditees.

Our staff work better and smart. NAO and its auditees, by printing less paper copies, are both helping to sustain the global environmental sustainability.

Our Audit Reports become public on the website once it is laid in the Legislative Assembly.

NAO Mauritius is proud to be one of the few countries worldwide to have prepared its annual financial statements on accruals based IPSAS. Our experienced personnel are also providing training in other NAO staff. Other Government Agencies and SAIs of Africa have to submit their financial statements on IPSAS as from January 2012 and we have become a reference to assist them.

Bilateral Professional Assistance.

NAO has trained the staff of the NAO of Buridie last July in Audit methodology. Internal Controllesrs of the MOF were trained in using IDEA and EXCEL and were introduced to the powers of TeamMate.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The Auditor General Office encouraged us to go for the TeamMate in 2004. With Government support, we acquired our IT infrastrurure and TeamMate software that was supplied by PricewaterHouse Coopers of Mauritius.

PWC provided initial training and Mr Khemraj REETUN, Assistant lead the project successfully. Staff were trained and coached and followed up in using Microsoft tools, TeamMate , Excel, Words and IDEA software for auditing.The above were instrumental for knowledge sharing in the office.

The Ministry of IT provided us with financial assistance assistance and with a technical staff for database management and the set of the intranet and internet and e-mail facilities. Establishment of the Government on line centre made the NAO one of its first customers.

IS Audit
The President of ISACA Chapter of Mauritius assisted us to plan, implement and prepare our staff for the course. Other members of the local ISACA chapter helped us a few days for the Examinations. Government paid for all costs. The NAO Director provided the participants with time off facilities and financial assistance and Mr K.REETUN managed the implementation of the course from its initiation to its end.

Audit Methodology
In house resources and the professional accounting firms in Mauritius , like Deloitte and PWC, and attendance to local seminars helped our staff, via regular training, on ISA and IFRS. Our
It was mostly voluntarily assistance as NAO was faced with a little fund available for training.

The AFROSAI-e (African organization of Supreme Audit Institution) and ASOSAI (Asian organization of supreme organization assisted us in audit methodologies. AFROSAI incurred costs for our staff to attend courses on risk based audit and audit methodology on financial/performance/regularity/environmental/IS/transversal/procurement/forensic audits.

Standards of Accounting and Corporate Governance.
The NAO acquired a cheap ERP software and Mr Reetun implemented and coached staff to prepare accounts.

Bilateral Professional Assistance.
Mr Reetun and Ramkishored trained the staff of the NAO of Burindie and the costs were met by a funding agency.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Faced with budgetary constraint, we could not provide laptops to all staff in 2004 when we started with only 24 laptops for some 90 audit staff. Each year, we purchased some 20 to 25 laptops and today for every 20 staff, 19 do have one.

IS Audit
It was believed to be an expensive project before last January and we could only dream to have it. We had a few experts over the years from abroad to assist them but our staff were not much confident to embark on any IS audit on their own or via small team. Earlier this year, the task for IS Audit was assigned to Mr Khemraj Reetun. With research and his networks, he came out to meet with the President of ISACA and everything then moved fast and surprisingly that would not involve much financial implication. The strategy was put into action successfully.

Audit Methodology.
We are simplifying the number of audit templates to simplify the methodology. Mr Reetun, Gaffoor and Ramkishore , all Assistant Directors, are doing pilot test of the simplified versions at no government costs.

To further enhance knowledge management to prepare financial statements, other staff have beed entrusted the responsibility for the above tasks.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
NAO is a Paper less audit since 2004 and has been transformed as a dynamic learning centre to keep pace with major developments in accounting and auditing standards and clients information. NAO is a reference in the region for effectively using TeamMate , Excel and IDEA software for auditing.
Mr Reetun co-authored a book in 2010 on risk management framework for other NAOs to better undertand Risk management in practice and for them to install it in their own SAIs. As SAIs have to save themselves from reputational risks of not meeting their audit mandates.

Mr Reetun participated last year in the Tri- Annual Scientific Competition, organized by AFROSAI, on the theme of ‘Using IT in the Audit Process’. The staff of SAIs in 51 countries were invited to participated. Mr Reetun research project was declared to be the Winner – A proud for NAO Mauritius and Mauritius. The information was published in the INTOSAI Newsletter of October 2011.

Following his recommendations key actions were in place already in place. The IS audit project for NAO, mentioned above, is the first. We have already planned to embark on IS audit early next year through more coaching and technical support to our audit staff. This will give us better comfort and audit assurance in our audit assignments.

Secondly, AFROSAI-e has already embarked on a project for the development of an accessible Audit software for Africa. A prototype of the software has already been developed and Mr Reetun with a team is presently piloting its implementation. Reetun is happy that other NAOs, mostly poor, will realize their dream shortly next year and will them work more efficiently and effectively in a paperless environment for the betterment of good accountability in Africa.

Mr Khemraj REETUN has been awarded the second prize of the National ICT Award as the Best ICT Individual of the Year 2011 organised by the Government on the 28 December 2011. The NAO has come out third in the Pulic Sector Category.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Financial constraint is the principal constraint in the public sector. But our operational budgets supported us to roll acquisitions of laptops over a few years. This initiative was also supported by the Budget Office of the Ministry of Finance. Also, information was communicated to all staff consistently. Staff who did not have laptops had to share with other team members at that time and this did not make them happy to wholly and effectively do their audit jobs on their laptops and also to take benefits of e-facilities available in intranet and internet.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The IT infrastructure cost us some US 20,000 to US 30,000 annually for maintenance payable for the software provider This ensures that all our audit works will be done in a paperless environment.

This year, the IS training costs for 47 staff reached some Rs 900,000 (US$ 30,000). The benefits will flow to the NAO shortly now that 47 officers have been trained in IS audit with a professional education and qualification. NAO believe in professionalism. The NAO no doubt will be successful in building capacity through its people. The IS knowledge acquired has enabled our staff to be more conversant with IS processes and how they impact on financial transactions, enable us to assess risks of transactions such as wrong accounting, incomplete processing and recording of transactions and accounts balance, discover possibility of financial frauds and misappropriation. IS knowledge has enlightened us on auditing IT governance, systems development and implementation, risks of information assets and much.

A few staff went overseas for training and the costs are met by AFROSAI-e , ASOSAI and the Indian Government. These training offer our staff the opportunities with new knowledge and network with people of other SAIs. They make we auditors learn from others , think openly and globally and come up with good practices when they return back home.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
NAO is a professional organization. Its people are committed to continue making NAO a model. The paperless audit software and IDEA and audit tools are embedded in the organization. Today our audit performance and staff performance are much enhanced. Stakeholders are having access to Audit Reports in advance and on the NAO Website. The intranet has proved itself already.

Our staff are already using the audit methodology that we are also improving to get better customized to meet our needs and comfort and to remain aligned to ISA.

We are now to further put into action knowledge learned in IS Audit. I wish to point out that we are amongst few SAIs in Africa to have IS auditors.

Surely, we intend to develop necessary practical course materials for IS audit auditors in the region and Mauritius free of charge.

NAO Mauritius is a model organization in the region. We have nearly 80 professional accountants (ACCA (UK) members. Our assistance is regularly sought in the region and we collaborate on bilateral grounds with the unflinching support of our Government. Mauritians have the culture to be hospitable and inter allia to share be it food, knowledge. We believed in relationship believing and to help others as it has always been be it locally or abroad.

As I have said above, knowledge for a similar paperless office is under finalization. Capacity building for the Internal Controllers of the Ministry of Finance is being supported and encouraged.
We are also making presentations on risk management framework for government agencies in Mauritius, with the expertise acquired by Mr K.Reetun.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
NAO and I, Khemraj REETUN, have been able to make our office a paperless office with staff equipped with sufficient capacity to work in a computerized IT environment comfortably and prepared to perform IS audit. NAO is evidenced of good governance and we have securing also our IT systems and environment to keep confidentiality of clients’ information. We produce reports on our activities and financial transactions openly to the public and displayed on our website.
We are a model organization that largely cooperates with other government agencies locally and abroad. We promote the accountancy and auditing knowledge and adhere to international standards and necessary local legal requirements. We continue to remain dynamic to meet our mandates. To conclude NAO success is attributed in the capacity building obtained through investing in its people.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   National Audit Office
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Khemraj REETUN
Title:   Assistant Director Of Audit  
Telephone/ Fax:   00 230 756 7064
Institution's / Project's Website:   http:\\
Address:   NAO, 14th Floor, Air Mauritius Centre, Sir President John Kennedy Street,
Postal Code:   00230
City:   Port Louis
State/Province:   Port Louis
Country:   Mauritius

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