A strong foundation for efficient public administration – the NAOF’s final accounts for 2017 have been published

The National Audit Office helps to enhance the resiliency of Finnish society even in unforeseen circumstances. Tytti Yli-Viikari, the Auditor General of the NAOF, looks back to 2017 and outlines the future in the Auditor General’s review accompanying the NAOF’s final accounts for 2017.

The celebrations commemorating the centenary of Finnish independence also highlighted the basic elements required for a well-functioning welfare state: strong common will, cooperation and trust. These form the warp of Finnish public administration, the foundation for weaving the future of Finland. The National Audit Office helps to strengthen the resilience of Finnish society by conducting audits that generate essential information for decision-makers in a timely manner and by taking account of the main risk factors.

Our job is to ensure the appropriate density of the weave, to identify when the warp is too tight, and to help the public administration to address and fix any broken threads. We also aim to continuously improve our audit planning and reporting so that we can better adjust our audit and expert work according to the needs of those utilising the data we produce and to better serve Parliament and senior management in central government. Another important part of the work of our auditors is to engage in active dialogue with our stakeholders and to ensure effectiveness of our work through close collaboration with customers. We have a prime vantage point over central government, which enables us to identify systemic phenomena, areas for development and limitations, and thus to support the sustainable development of central government activities.

A good example of our staff’s ability to reform and to work with others is how smoothly our move to new premises took place and how quickly people were able to adopt their new work routines. Sharing information, engaging in active professional dialogue and having inspiring discussions, both face-to-face and virtual, also contribute to our ability to adjust and reform. The increasing utilisation of technology in our work enables us to spend more time on having discussions and learning. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NAOF personnel for their strong commitment to the continuous development and reforming of our work.

We respond to changes in our operating environment and auditing standards through lifelong, continuous learning. In 2017, with a view to enhancing our management, competence and interaction, we introduced our customer feedback system. I would like to thank our stakeholder groups for the active dialogue and for their trust, which is reflected in the open and constructive feedback we have received.

New patterns of operation can only be established through experimenting, trials, networking, and innovation. The reform of central government, the provincial reform and other system reforms are changing the structures of public administration. Risks always increase during a change, which means that more audits and supervision are needed. To this end, we have focused our audit work on the capabilities of central government to implement structural reforms and to steer cross-administrative activities.

Globalisation has linked the National Audit Office more closely as part of the international community. The year 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Lima Declaration, which establishes the principle of independence of public external audit institutions. Independent audit is an integral element of democracy and helps to strengthen citizens’ trust towards the rule of law.
Multinational networks enable sharing good practices and controlled introduction of new innovations to our audit work. Peer support is of utmost importance in the development of data analytics and automation of audit processes. We benefit from participating in the discussions within INTOSAI on a common framework in auditing the national implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Our data analytics strategy of 2017 outlines our policies on the development of data analytics in the next few years. Data analytics will be used more than before in the planning of audits, during the audits and in reporting. We will also be utilising more extensively open data, Big Data and unstructured data, as well as new data collection and data analytics solutions.
When weaving fabric, the tighter the thread twist and the higher the number of yarns twisted together, the stronger the warp becomes. Each new generation of public servants can help to increase the number of yarns in the thread by acting in a transparent, responsible and efficient manner. A strong warp then enables each new Government to weave the fabric and pattern they desire.