Head of Department Bálint Horváth gave a presentation about the communications strategy and results of the State Audit Office of Hungary in Sarajevo, at the two-day-long working group session of the SIGMA development organisation. The professional event supporting the Bosnian supreme audit institution focused on communication tailored to target groups and active contact with the society. In his one hour-long interactive presentation the presenter of the State Audit Office of Hungary presented the good practices and experience of the SAO in the aforementioned areas.
SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management) is a development organisation that came to existence based on the joint agreement of OECD and the European Union in 1992. Its main goal is to support social and economic development, particularly in developing countries, by strengthening the foundation of public administration. According to the strategy of SIGMA, the development of the capacities of the public sector and the promotion of administrative reforms can significantly contribute to the social and economic development of the countries concerned, that is, the welfare of local inhabitants. One of the target groups of the programme is the professional development and support of supreme audit institutions and national audit offices by passing on international good practices.
On 13-14 June 2018, SIGMA held its working group session in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to provide professional support to the Bosnian supreme audit institution. The two-day-long training programme focused on communication and social utilisation. The State Audit Office of Hungary has been improving its communication activity for years, receiving more and more international attention. For this reason, SIGMA asked Bálint Horváth, Communications Manager of the State Audit Office of Hungary, to present the results and experiences of the State Audit Office of Hungary in this area. At the professional event, other presentations were given by experts from the Dutch and Latvian supreme audit institutions, as well as by representatives and trainers of SIGMA.
At the beginning of his presentation, Bálint Horváth emphasised that “communication itself can never be the goal, but rather an instrument that should be used for achieving the strategic goals of the organisation.” As he said, the State Audit Office of Hungary has reformed its communications strategy and established its information-providing and knowledge-sharing activity focusing on social utilisation according to this approach since 2010. As the presenter of the SAO put it: “effective communication requires a proactive attitude that is able to react fast to different changes, continuous development and the exploitation of the latest achievements of Information Technology”.
In his presentation, the Communication and Public Relations Manager of the State Audit Office of Hungary explained in detail how the State Audit Office of Hungary built up its communication activity based on international standards aimed to ensure social utilisation (ISSAI 12) and transparency (ISSAI 20). Bálint Horváth presented the possible target groups of the utilisation of the SAO’s work one by one, as well as the channels through which such target groups can be reached. As the presenter highlighted: “the country-specific knowledge arising from the audits and analyses should be considered as a product that should be converted into different activities and instruments, then sold in the market”.
Bálint Horváth described by area how the State Audit Office of Hungary plans and achieves its goals set in its communications strategy, and how it measures and analyses the results. In connection with the latter, the communications manager of the State Audit Office of Hungary highlighted that: “only an activity which is measurable and the further trends of the development of which can be determined by means of change management can be effective and targeted”. The presenter emphasised that the legal, social and public policy environment can be different in each country, therefore in general no perfect solutions exist. “It is crucial that all audit institutions strive for utilisation and fill the process with content and working practice,” he stressed.
In his presentation, the representative of the State Audit Office of Hungary introduced the EUROSAI working group established for the purpose of enhancing social utilisation. He also spoke about a similar international working group of INTOSAI (WGVBS), of which he had been an active member since 2017. Finally, Bálint Horváth proved by means of a case study how proactive communication can increase the international recognition of an audit institution. By presenting the Open Budget Survey (OBS), the presenter of the State Audit Office of Hungary highlighted that significant results could be achieved with relatively little effort. For example, the State Audit Office of Hungary managed to considerably improve its result in this international survey assessing the budgetary transparency of certain countries over two years.
During and after the one-hour-long interactive presentation, the participants of the working group session – mainly the executives of the Bosnian supreme audit institution and leaders from certain professional areas – asked several questions from the presenter of the State Audit Office of Hungary. The presentation was followed by a very lively discussion, in the course of which the participants agreed that supreme audit institutions, as audit institutions financed from public funds, should lead the way in striving for transparency and social utility. Bálint Horváth said: “supreme audit institutions should set an example, which requires raising communication to a strategic level”. The representatives of the Bosnian supreme audit institution declared that they would use the experience of the State Audit Office of Hungary and continue to count on the professional support of their Hungarian partner institution.
Department of Communication and Public Relations