In 2018, the prime objectives of the State Audit Office of Hungary included the exchange of international audit experience and cooperation with national SAIs and international organisations. To this end, last year the leaders and colleagues of the SAO shared the experiences of the SAO and learned about the latest international practices at 42 activities abroad and 13 international professional and knowledge sharing events in Hungary. In addition, the SAO signed an international agreement and participated in the conclusion of a donor agreement. In this summary article, the international activities and engagement of the State Audit Office of Hungary in 2018 are described.
The State Audit Office of Hungary is an active participant in the international activities of supreme audit institutions. Participation in international forums is a key element of international engagement, which supports task performance as it facilitates the exchange of experience with other SAIs, and provides an opportunity to learn about good practices abroad.
In line with its strategy, the State Audit Office of Hungary was active in the international audit community again last year. Through its activities abroad, the SAO could develop its relations and exchange experiences internationally to ensure the wide utilisation of its work. Integrity, IT control, maintaining contact with the citizens, societal utilisation and transparency were the focus areas in the international communication of the SAO.
The international anti-corruption activity of the SAO
Since 2014, the State Audit Office of Hungary has organised its main annual international knowledge sharing event, the International Integrity Seminar. The 5th International Integrity Seminar, held between 5-9 March 2018, focused on stepping up joint international anti-corruption efforts. At the event, international experiences regarding the integrity approach and the implementation of an integrity based administrative culture were shared with audit experts from developing countries. The opening conference of the one-week seminar was in Budapest, at the State Audit Office of Hungary's headquarters, and during the following four days, there were group activities and lectures focusing on practical skills.
Last year, the SAO participated in the OECD anti-corruption and integrity forum, where integrity was discussed from the aspect of how and with what tools it can contribute to efficient public action, to the decrease of corruption and, through this, to the decrease of social and economic inequalities. This was the first time that a colleague of the SAO had participated in a meeting organised by the International Expert Group (IEG), the consultancy body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which focused on the global challenge of the efficient fight against corruption and fraud.
Two colleagues of the SAO participated as mentors in a meeting focusing on the audit of the integrity anti-corruption institutional system, organised as part of the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) 'SAI Fighting Corruption Programme' (SFC) . SAIs participating in the cooperative performance audit of the IDI SFC agreed to assess the performance of the anti-corruption institutional system in their country. At the meeting of the INTOSAI Internal Control Standards Subcommittee, a colleague of the SAO presented the integrity assessment module, which was developed as part of the standard international model for the assessment of the financial management system of budgetary institutions.
Proactive communication and societal utilisation
The State Audit Office of Hungary constantly develops its communication and utilisation activities, which attracts increasing attention internationally as well. In 2018, the experts of the SAO attended several conferences abroad and gave lectures about communication tailored to target groups and the success and results of maintaining contact with the society, contributing to the societal utilisation of the SAO's work.
At the meeting of the INTOSAI Working Group on Value and Benefits of SAIs, the SAO's Head of Communications talked about the importance of having a dialogue with society and the communication tools involved in that. At the meeting of the working group, the representative of the SAO also presented the work and results of the SAO-led international project group, EUROSAI "Social utilisation and transparency of public sector audits". The primary objectives of the project include the utilisation of the audit work, the establishment of the possibilities for measuring it, and the facilitation of knowledge sharing among supreme audit institutions.
The SAO delegation presented the focuses and qualitative results of its proactive utilisation activities at the annual meeting of the Contact Committee of the European Union last year. In addition, the delegation also presented a video at the meeting that described the public awareness, recognition and utilisation practice of the SAO, substantiated with public opinion poll results.
Head of Communications at the SAO, Bálint Horváth was the expert to present the communication strategy and results of the State Audit Office of Hungary at the two-day session of the working group of SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management of Central and Eastern European Countries). The professional event focused on communication tailored to target groups and maintaining contact with the society.
At the conference of the Peer Review Subcommittee of the INTOSAI Capacity Building Committee, the results and utilisation of the peer review of the communication activities, which was completed in 2016, were presented by the SAO's Head of Communications. Tasks were devised following the Peer Review and these led to changes that contributed to the increased utilisation of audit work, and increased the public awareness and recognition of the SAO.
International cooperation agreements
President of the SAO, László Domokos signed an international cooperation agreement with the Audit Office of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a bilateral meeting on 3 September 2018. The aim of the international project of the two supreme audit institutions is to prepare a study on the handling of corruption risks related to information technology public procurements of public bodies. In the project, the SAI of the UAE devised an IT public procurement model, and the SAO created a questionnaire to assess the integrity of the IT-related public procurements of the government, based on the model devised by the SAI of the UAE.
Hungary contributed, both financially and professionally, to the international initiative of the INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) to train young leaders for supreme audit institutions. This contribution was initiated by the State Audit Office of Hungary: the current budgetary savings of the SAO was used, and SAO experts participated in the programme. Once the framework of the cooperation was devised, the international agreement to facilitate the training of young leaders for supreme audit institutions was officially signed on 4 September 2018.
The SAO hosts several international events for audit experts
Last year the State Audit Office of Hungary organised several international events in Hungary for audit experts. The INTOSAI Performance Audit Subcommittee (PAS) had its session in Budapest in April 2018, and discussed the current issues of performance audit and programme evaluation.
The SAO organised the annual meeting of the supreme audit institutions of the V4+2 countries, which focused on maintaining contact with the public, efficient communication, and the supervision of the progress towards sustainable development goals.
The seminar of the European Organisation of Regional External Public Finance Audit Institutions (EURORAI) between 17-19 October 2018 was held in Székesfehérvár, and the focus was on auditing business associations owned by local governments. Over 180 audit experts attended this international event hosted by the State Audit Office of Hungary. You will find videos below with President of the SAO, László Domokos and President of EURORAI Dominique Roguez.
Institutional relations in the spirit of knowledge sharing and exchange of experience
In 2018, several bilateral meetings were held at the SAO headquarters to facilitate knowledge sharing and the exchange of experience. Tihamér Warvasovszky, Vice President of the SAO received the delegation of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), who were informed about campaign financing and related audit activities, and the issues involved in the auditing of political parties. In February 2018, the ambassador of the Republic of France visited the President of the SAO. In addition, the experts of the State Audit Office of Hungary received a delegation from the Chinese SAI, discussing the subject of the well-managed state; audit experts from Azerbaijan were informed about the activities regarding the audit of the final accounts; and bilateral professional discussions were held with the delegation from the Korean Ministry of Justice, with a focus on the exchange of experience between the two countries.
International communication on the SAO news portal
Foreign language (English, German and French) publications on the SAO news portal are an important part of international utilisation. In addition to the articles in Hungarian, the State Audit Office of Hungary published 459 additional articles on the three foreign language sites of the news portal in 2018. The foreign language articles included 286 English, 103 German and 70 French articles. The fact that content is published in three foreign languages demonstrates that the SAO ensures the transparency and traceability of its activity on an international level as well.
Adél Kispéter Department of Communication and Institutional Relations