The NAOF (National Audit Office of Finland) carried out a SAI (Supreme Audit Institution) PMF (Performance Management Framework) assessment of its own performance and a related external quality assurance (IDI: INTOSAI Development Initiative), which were completed at the beginning of 2019 In its statement, the IDI confirmed that the assessment had been carried out in compliance with the SAI PMF methodology. The assessment was carried out as self-assessment targeted at the year 2017 (as regards financial audits, at the year 2016).
The SAI PMF is an assessment framework developed for supreme audit institutions by INTOSAI (The International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions). The aim of the assessment is to help SAIs to develop their performance by providing information on the strengths and development areas of the organisation. The SAI PMF is a voluntary tool for assessing performance against the ISSAI standards and other established international good practices. In addition to audit work, the SAI PMF assessment also covers other operations of the SAI. The assessment does not give recommendations, but its findings can be utilised, for example, in the strategy process to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation.
The following observations, for example, can be made based on the assessment: The Constitution guarantees the NAOF an independent status and a broad right of access to information related to the management, monitoring and audit of central government finances. However, the NAOF’s audit right does not apply to Kela, the social security institution of Finland, or the Bank of Finland, which is a shortcoming. The development areas raised by the assessment include more uniform planning of audit and expert work, and transparent linking of audit planning to the strategy. The NAOF’s internal control, in turn, seems to function well according to the assessment, but a development area raised was the management of operational risks at the agency level. The ISSAI standards are well observed in the guidelines issued on the NAOF’s different audit types, and the different types of audits were found to be comprehensive. Based on the assessment, the management of the NAOF’s finances and assets is effective, but it should be ensured that the guidelines are easy to find and up to date. The NAOF’s recent investments in the HR function, e.g. through systematic competence development, were also reflected in the assessment. External communications and compilation of feedback were found to function well.
Auditor General’s view of the assessment results: focus on developing future competence and supporting innovations
According to Tytti Yli-Viikari, Auditor General of Finland, the SAI PMF assessment provides a good foundation for improving performance. Most of the processes and operating models described in the assessment require continuous evaluation and development. The NAOF’s new strategy and the changes made on the basis of it address the key findings of the assessment as regards agency-level quality assurance and assessment, more uniform planning of audit and expert work and development, and more flexible human resource planning.
The results of the assessment also support the NAOF’s decision to focus on developing competence and supporting audit method and product innovations. The NAOF strives to continue enhancing its interaction and revamping its cooperation with its stakeholders in order to increase the recognition of its work. This will enable the NAOF to better support the sustainable reform of central government finances. We will continue to highlight the mandate of the NAOF and extend our footprint to cover the key actors in public finances.
The results of the SAI PMF assessment strengthen our view that the NAOF should engage in active dialogue with its stakeholders. We should also pay attention to the impacts that technology and the changing expectations in society have on the audit environment, where the processes of public finances and policy preparation keep developing. These changes also pose challenges to the management and evaluation of the NAOF’s performance, as the impact of our work is, to an increasing extent, evaluated more broadly than simply on the basis of a single audit report or audit-related communications.
The results of the assessment have been utilised in the NAOF’s strategy work and in the NAOF’s ongoing reform process.