State Auditing

STATE AUDITING IN THE PHILIPPINES Reported by: MYRLA P. SEDENIO RUTH C. TACUJAN A. OBJECTIVES I. To Discuss the State Audit System 2. To Identify Issues and Limitations of Government Auditing 3. To Discuss the Measurement of Government Performance B. INTRODUCTION The Philippine Constitution emphasizes the importance of accountability in the government. Article XI simply and bluntly begins: “Public office is a public trust,” before it adds that officials and employees should serve the people with “responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.   In the government budget cycle, accountability is laid down by the need for government agencies and departments submit to submit quarterly and monthly income statements; statements of allotment, obligations and balances along with other financial reports and documents for audit – a formal process whereby the authenticity, accuracy and reliability of financial accounts or transactions are checked and approved.

There are several kinds of audit: One is Financial Auditing wherein financial transactions and accounts are checked to ensure the submitting government agency has complied with the rules and regulations, specifically the pre-agreed and government accounting system. Another type is Performance Auditing whereby one is looking at the systems of the agency to assess it has delivered on its institutional purpose and mandate by linking the budgets with results or results-based budgets. An internal audit, as the name suggests, an internal check on agency systems and processes.

External Auditing involves an outside audit body being brought in to look at the agency. Pre-auditing refers to auditing by agencies before approval of transactions while post-auditing is auditing by an independent body after. The Philippine government has agencies mandated to ensure accountability and transparency on its overall operations. These agencies are: The Office of the Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan, Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, the Civil Service Commission and primarily, for the purpose of this paper, the Commission on Audit. C. STATE AUDIT SYSTEM

Auditing is the examination of information by a third party other than the preparer or user with the intention of establishing its realibility, and the reporting of the results of this examination with the expectation of increasing the usefulness of the information to the user. Commission on Audit The Commission on Audit (COA) is the constitutional commission mandated to be the supreme audit institution of the government. It has jurisdiction over national government agencies, local government units, government-owned and controlled corporations and non-government organizations receiving benefits and subsidies from the government.

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The Constitution identified the following functions for the Commission:  1. Examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the government; 2. Promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties; 3.

Submit annual reports to the President and the Congress on the financial condition and operation of the government; 4. Recommend measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations; 5. Keep the general accounts of government and preserve the vouchers and supporting papers pertaining thereto; 6. Decide any case brought before it within 60 days; 7. Perform such other duties and functions as may be provided by law. COA, as the other constitutional commissions are mandated, is headed by a Chairman and two Commissioners appointed by the President and the Commission on Appointments of Congress.

It also enjoys fiscal autonomy which means its appropriations must be released regularly and automatically. The Commission also deploys resident auditors in all national government agencies, local government units and government-owned and controlled corporations pursuant to its mandate to review each agency’s financial operations in a risk-based audit approach. The Commission on Audit (COA) has developed and introduced a risk-based audit approach (RBAA) that emphasizes the need for the auditors to focus on high-risk areas that are potential breeding grounds for graft and corruption.

Auditing plays an important role in public finance, the Auditing Code of the Philippines was promulgated in 1979 (P. D. 1445). As it proceeds mainly from the basic law, the Code amplifies, elaborates, specifies, and implements Under the declaration of policy in the Auditing Code, it is stated that all resources of the government shall be managed, spent and utilized in accordance with law and regulations and safeguard against loss or wastage through illegal or improper disposition, with a view to ensuring efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the operations of government.

COA reports In order to perform its audit functions, COA produces different kinds of reports. A study by the Philippine National Budget Monitoring Project identified and explained each of these: 1. Regular Annual Audit Report of each NGA, LGU and GOCC 2. Consolidated Annual Financial Report for NGAs, LGUs and GOCCs 3. Special Audit Reports 4. Circulars and other Issuances The Annual Audit Reports contain the results of the audit conducted on the financial statements submitted by agencies, local government units and government-owned and controlled corporations to COA auditors.

The results are shown in the form of audit opinions indicating how the agencies faired with their financial statements at the end of each fiscal year. The types of audit opinions are: Unqualified (U), Qualified (Q), Adverse (A) and Disclaimer (D). An Unqualified Opinion refers to the “clean opinion” or the agency reflected the results of the financial statements fairly, which means its operations and the financial condition in a period of time based on existing government accounting standards, and in compliance with government laws, rules and regulations.

A Qualified Opinion means that an agency reflected fairly except for some specific transactions and/or accounts that have been found to be problematic, either improper, questionable or needs further explanations. Adverse opinion means that the financial statements did not fairly present its results of operations and financial condition of the agency, and are not in compliance with prescribed laws and applicable guidelines. Lastly, the Disclaimer opinion means that “there is no sufficient basis to form any opinion” for an agency does not keep or submit its records of financial accounts and transactions.

An audit report has the following parts: Audit Certificate, which shows the audit opinion, the Financial Statements, Major Findings and Observations which explains if there are defects in the compliance of accounting and auditing rules and policies, and Recommendations to the entities. In turn, COA checks if these measures were conformed by the entity on the next year’s annual audit report. The Consolidated Annual Financial Reports on the other hand show the financial performance of the public sector in general.

Each level has a volume of the consolidated financial report, one each for NGAs, LGUs and GOCCs. These are based on the audit reports of each entity. These reports contain the financial condition and highlights of agencies, local government units and government corporations. These reports also reflect the financial resources of the government, even the off-budget accounts or funds that are not subject to annual appropriations. Interestingly, these reports are the only source where one can be informed about funds that are not sourced out from appropriations.

Special Audit Reports are purposely for investigation, in response to a request by interested parties or by a directive from Congress. The Commission has already undergone special audit reports on the country’s outstanding debt and special purpose funds such as the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act and procurement of the Department of Public Works and Highways. GAFMIS The Government Accountancy and Financial Management Information System (GAFMIS) is a financial database which keeps the general accounts of the government.

It is spearheaded by the COA so as to implement its mandated function. Thru this, the appropriations are verified and allotment releases to agencies are ensured not to exceed the appropriations. From the Department of Budget Management (DBM), copies of Agency Budget Matrices (ABM) and Special Allotment release Orders (SARO) are submitted to GAFMIS and these make up the Registry of Appropriations and Allotments. The GAFMIS is also essential because it assists government agencies with the Electronic New Government Accounting System (e-NGAS).

It is a computerized program of the New Government Accounting System wherein budget transactions, allotments and obligations are recorded and monitored electronically. It also helps in streamlining the New Government Accounting System which provides the new accounting policies in the government. Some of the basic features of the new system are the Accrual accounting and One-fund concept. Accrual accounting recognizes the income when earned and expenses when incurred as oppose to recognizing income when cash is earned and expenses when paid.

Internal control and the internal control system Internal control is defined as a process effected by an organization’s structure, work and authority flows, people and management information systems which are designed to help it accomplish its goals. It is a means by which an organization’s resources are directed, monitored, and measured. It plays an important role in preventing and detecting fraud and protecting the organization’s resources. Internal audit is an integral part of internal control. It maintains efficiency and effectiveness in operations.

It looks at the reliability of financial transactions in reports by making sure that they are in accordance with rules and regulations. Several provisions in the Philippines have signified the internal control in the government such as Section 123 of the amended Presidential Decree 1445, the Administrative Code 1987 and Government Accounting and Auditing Manual guided by worldwide standards thru the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Organization for Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). The INTOSAI also formulated standards for the internal control systems in the public sector.

It has emphasized that internal control systems shall be in line with the characteristics, values and context of the public organizations. In line with these provisions, the Government has formulated the National Government Internal Control System (NGICS) through the efforts of the DBM and resource and reference panels from various government agencies. It serves as a guide to government agencies in putting up internal control systems. It aims to strengthen accountability, safeguard assets, promote efficiency, economy and effectiveness in the operations and adhere with the policies of the organization. D.

Issues and Problems of Government Auditing In her public budgeting and accounting class, the late professor Emilia Boncodin stressed some issues on COAs mandate and the accounting and auditing system of the government as follows: 1. The audit system looks only on the agencies compliance with the accounting standards and laws in the financial reports instead of finding if the agencies have properly allocated their appropriate budgets. 2. Reporting of the GOCC’s entire budget What is reported in the government budget documents regarding the GOCCs are the budgetary support to government corporations or subsidies only.

Yet, COA audits the corporate operating expenses on the entire budget of government corporations. 3. Lax in penalizing because COA is limited to recommendatory functions only Adverse/disclaimer audit opinions and recommendations by COA to government agencies do not have the corresponding penalties or sanctions if they are not acted upon and followed. An example is DPWH’s audit report where it has been given an adverse opinion for the past 18 years. 4. Pre-Audit vs. Post audit Each type of audit has its own problems.

Post–audit is disadvantageous because it involves final evaluation of financial transaction – that is after the funds have already been disbursed. Pre-audit however, ironically defeats the overall essential purpose of auditing because financial transactions are assessed beforehand. In the past, COA had been operating on post audit basis since 1995-2009 when COA circular 2009-002 reinstituted the selective pre-auditing due to rising incidents and anomalous disbursements. However, Circular 2009-003 in June 16 2009 suspended some of the provisions in the earlier circular to ensure uniformity and consistency in its implementation.

On COA reports The Philippine National Budget Monitoring Project has identified the following limitations that affect the importance of COA reports in ensuring accountability: 1. Timeliness COA’s deadline on the submission of reports is not parallel to the schedule of budget preparation. Audit and financial reports must be submitted by end of September while budget preparation time ends in July when the Congress’ session opens. The timings would thus work best if reversed since the reports should serve as aids in reviewing the agencies’ budgets in time for budget legislation.

Given the reality, the value of COA’s reports being used as tools to determine the status of government entities in terms of financial performance and compliance with rules are nullified. 2. Completeness Audit reports of agencies are not completed on time due to inability of personnel and time constraints. In effect, this puts problems in reviewing the budget and in making the annual financial reports. 3. Availability Although COA’s website is useful in terms of the reports posted, many reports from agencies including those from LGUs and GOCCs are currently missing. 4. Contestability of findings

There are issues on COA’s findings on its reports. First is that the some of the past findings have not been resolved yet or the so-called “hereditary balance sheets. ” An example is the disallowances that must be deducted by agencies to employees. However, these have not been resolved even if some personnel have already left the service or died. Secondly, there is the inconsistency of audit rules by resident auditors. In some agencies, the rules of past auditors and new auditors differ like deductions that were not present in the past have already been installed at the time the new auditor comes to office.

The third issue is the unreasonable application of rules and regulations in auditing. Some expenses are disallowed even if it yields good results. The last issue is the inability of auditors to understand the situation of agencies’ operations. The operations have complexities that emergencies become inevitable and it is hard for them to look at the reasons for the issues in operations. 5. Feasibility of recommendations The COA’s recommendations on reports are not always being followed by agencies and these are already beyond the control of the institution. 6. Conflict of interest

COA auditors are still considered as “mere mortals” that may experience biases, influences and errors in judgment. There are often claims that some auditors are complicit in bribery and graft. On internal control and the internal control system The NGICS has identified the following limitations of internal control: Human error, i. e. , errors in judgment such as internal auditor’s biases/conflict of interest, negligence, misunderstanding, fatigue, distraction, collusion, abuse, etc. 1. Shifts in government policies or programs 2. Resource constraints 3. Organizational changes; and 4. Management attitude

E. Measurement of Government Performance Under COA Resolution No. 2002-005 dated May 17, 2002, the Special Audit Office was renamed Management Services to expand its services to include: a. Conduct of Value-For-Money audits and related operations review activities. b. Provide management consultancy services to other government agencies in such areas as: * Organization * Strategy Formulation * Financial Feasibility * Strategic Planning * Other related areas c. Coordinate with all offices of the Commission for the purpose of establishing feedback mechanisms on implemented innovations. d.

Formulate recommendations to the Chairman on the adoption of the most appropriate systems for the enhancement of operations. e. Perform such other functions as may be assigned. Recently, the Office is assigned to conduct Rate and Levy audits. The functions: Conduct of Value-For-Money (VFM) Audit This audit is concerned with the review of management efficiency with the end in view of eliminating waste and promoting efficient use of public funds and resources and the ascertainment of the agency’s effectiveness by determining whether desired results have been achieved and programs have accomplished their purposes and objectives.

Approaches in the conduct of VFM audits Agency-based approach An audit of a particular program, project or activity of a selected agency. Government-wide and Sectoral Performance Audits Government-wide and Sectoral Performance Audits are new approaches adopted by the Commission under COA Resolution No. 98-005 dated March 3, 1998. While these types of audits were introduced in 1998, it was only in 2002 that these approaches were operationalized under the COA-UNDP AusAID Project entitled “Enhancing the Public Accountability Programme of the Philippine Commission on Audit”.

Government-wide audit is the simultaneous examination of a management function or activity in a number of government agencies which is expected to provide: * basic data for comparing practices and operations between and among government agencies in the same sector or with the whole government; * collated data of practices in various government agencies that could show the magnitude or insignificance of deficiencies in the system; * audit criteria which are supported by best practices; * awareness on the part of auditors and the auditees of how their agency compares with other government agencies in terms of objectives, functions, operations, internal and administrative controls, and output; and * opportunities to the audited agency for benchmarking with other government agencies.

On the other hand, the Sectoral Audit refers to an audit of programs or activities that are delivered by more than one government agency and is expected to provide: * an overall picture of how various segments of a program are implemented and possibly lead to the identification of areas where improvements can be introduced; * audit criteria or benchmark for future audits of government programs by various government agencies; * basis for auditors to realize that program difficulties may not lie with a single agency but possibly with the way the agencies involved in the program work together; * an arena for airing program difficulties by audited agencies; and * opportunity for making changes in the program, if necessary.

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