If findings are ignored, why audit?

The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) of Tanzania has been prompt in auditing and releasing audit findings on various operations of the Government in recent years. To the disappointment of many however, a clear indication that financial management situation is improving because of audits is lacking.

Analysis by Uwazi show that audit findings have largely been ignored by Local Government Authorities leading to growth of money implied in audit questions that are not provided with adequate answers. The number of councils that failed to provide adequate answers to audit questions also almost doubled, from 65 in 2005/06 to 129 in 2009/10.

The analysis, presented in a policy brief titled "If findings are ignored, why audit?" further reveals that while in 2006/7 there were 100 councils that had clean audits this number has fallen to 65 in 2009/10, indicating a general deterioration of quality of financial management. Also, the number of councils with various kinds of irregularities has doubled, and internal control environment to safeguard public resources is very weak. For example, the CAG report for 2009/10 shows that in 91 percent of all councils, internal audit unit is ineffective; in 64 percent internal control environment is weak and in 86 percent of councils accounting systems in place are inadequate.

The researchers suggest that this situation need not be permanent, and urge the Government to start taking audits more seriously by making sure that recommendations by the CAG are not ignored.  Specifically, the researchers suggest that:

  • Local Authorities Accounts Committee (LAAC) of the Parliament should take a more active role in tasking irresponsible accounting officers who fail to manage resources well. The LAAC could organise public hearings where citizens can participate and call accounting officers to testify on financial management shortfalls in their Councils.
  • The authority appointing the accounting officers in Local Government Authorities should exercise employment sanctions as recommended by the CAG and LAAC on managers who fail to safeguard public resources.
  • The Appointing Authority should consider adopting an employment framework that compels management teams in the public sector to be more accountable. CAG has recommended hiring managers on contractual terms renewable on successful performance.
  • Members of Parliament and Councilors should take a more active role in inquiring whether council directors manage public resources in the best interest of communities as part of their contribution in council meetings.

Finally, the researchers also suggest that Councils become more transparent about resources they collect and/or receive and what they are intended to finance. Without meaningful level of budget transparency, it is hard to expect Citizens will be successful in enforcing accountability from the demand side.

Read more: accountability



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