Auditor General tells govt offices to clear backlogs

June 21, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, 21 June 2017

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has directed government offices to have their accounts audited within three months after finding out that many had fallen behind.

As many as 2,925 units of financial transactions worth Rs5.30 billion have been recorded in the audit backlog, the OAG said.

The OAG issued a circular to the government offices, public enterprises, boards, committees and funds to hurry up following a multilateral meeting headed by the chief secretary. Of the total audit backlog, 436 units are related to public enterprises.

“Timely audits will help reduce financial irregularities that have become rampant in a number of government bodies,” Auditor General Tanka Mani Sharma said. 

In the last fiscal year, a total of 2,929 units of financial transactions worth Rs5.74 billion remained pending, the OAG report shows. Sharma said a number of the recorded audit backlogs were carryovers from past years.

The move follows the OAG’s six-year action plan which has envisaged improving the audit system in government offices to ensure internal control and good governance.

The action plan has identified six areas for reform. They include institutional set-up and reform in working mechanism, reform in policy and legal framework, improvement in audit process, effectiveness and quality improvement in audit system, financial discipline and accountability and institutional relationships and communication.

According to the OAG, a well-equipped Audit Excellence Centre will be set up. Similarly, an Audit Follow-up and Irregularities Clearance Unit will be established to carry out effective monitoring and resolve problems of arrears in government offices that have been growing in recent days.

The OAG has planned to set up an Audit Quality Assurance Unit for quality control in the audit system. Likewise, Special Sector Audit Units will be formed to perform audits based on sector and degree of risk.

Establishing a high level audit unit and developing information technology are also among the priorities.

The OAG’s action plan has also targeted managing human resources properly, implementing the Office Automation System, amending the existing Audit Act 1992 and developing compliance measures as per international standards.

The constitutional body has been mulling to formulate Standard Operating Procedures to cross-check the work of external auditors appointed to audit the accounts of public enterprises.

The OAG has also planned to increase the participation of civil society in social audits. In order to minimise irregularities, peer reviews of audit reports will be conducted.

“A list of officials who have not been maintaining financial discipline and settling arrears will be prepared and sent to the concerned authorities for further action,” the OAG said.