The State Audit Office of Hungary - An Introduction

2013-01-01 08:00   |   Author: Állami Számvevőszék

Dear Visitor, László Domokos, President of the State Audit Office of Hungary welcomes you to the news portal of the SAO. Through the news portal, you can get acquainted with the usefulness and versatility of the work of the State Audit Office, and the professional activity of our staff. Our goal is to ensure that you read fresh, authentic, undistorted first-hand news every day.

Key facts about the State Audit Office of Hungary

 

Elected officials of the State Audit Office of Hungary


President László Domokos
Vice-President Tihamér Warvasovszky

 

Appointed executives

 

Magdolna Holman Secretary General

Katalin Kátai-Krizsán Chief Financial Officer

 

Activity of the State Audit Office of Hungary

 

The State Audit Office of Hungary is the supreme financial and economic audit institution of the National Assembly, reporting to the National Assembly. The State Audit Office of Hungary remains independent of any other organisation in performing its audit activity. Congress XIX of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), held in Mexico, adopted the declaration on the independence of supreme audit institutions, arranging the essential requirements of the adequate audit of the public sector around eight core principles. On account of the membership of the State Audit Office, Hungary also participates in the INTOSAI, therefore, the implementation of the provisions of the Mexico Declaration carry obligations for our country as well.

 

The principle of independence prevails in terms of personnel, financial, legal, organisational matters and activities in the provisions of the Fundamental Law as well as the Act on the State Audit Office. It is a guarantee rule ensuring the independence of the State Audit Office that the proposal for the annual budget of the SAO and the report on the execution of the budget are drawn up by the State Audit Office itself. Another guarantee rule is that the annual budget approved for the State Audit Office cannot be lower than that of the previous year, and also that a law may set out a new task for the State Audit Office only if the financial coverage necessary for the fulfilment of the task is also provided for simultaneously. The independence of the State Audit Office is strengthened by the fact that the remuneration of the President, Vice-President, lead auditors and auditors of the organisation is not based on the base pay of public officials, established annually, but instead on the gross average salary of the national economy of the previous year as published by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office. The remuneration of the auditors is thereby rendered independent of the current budget decisions of the legislative and executive power and is linked in an objective manner, directly to national economic processes.

 

The State Audit Office of Hungary has general powers in auditing the responsible financial management of public funds and the national wealth. The proposal for the annual budget of the State Audit Office of Hungary and the report on the execution of the budget are drawn up by the SAO itself, and are submitted unchanged to the National Assembly by the Government as a part of the bill on the central budget and its implementation. The financial management of the State Audit Office of Hungary is audited by an independent chartered accountant selected and appointed by the Speaker of the National Assembly by way of tendering.

 

Article 43 of the Fundamental Law “positions” the State Audit Office of Hungary as an autonomous public law organisation outside the government hierarchy, among the institutions named at constitutional level. Within the structure of the central budget, the State Audit Office of Hungary constitutes an independent chapter, where the rights of the head of the organisation supervising this chapter are exercised by the President. The President of the State Audit Office of Hungary is elected by the National Assembly for a term of 12 years, with a two-thirds majority of MP votes. It is a guarantee for the political independence of the President (Vice-President) that no person who in the preceding four years was a member of the Government, or held a position as an elected official in the national (central) organisation of any political party, can be a candidate for the presidency of the State Audit Office of Hungary. Upon the expiry of their mandate, the President of the State Audit Office of Hungary may be re-elected. If no re-election takes place, the President will stay in office until the National Assembly elects the new President of the State Audit Office of Hungary. The President of the State Audit Office of Hungary has the same right to immunity from prosecution as members of Parliament. The Vice-President is a general deputy to the President, substituting the President within the scope of powers determined by the President, and performing other duties of the President.

 

The State Audit Office of Hungary carries on its activity based on an audit plan approved by the President. The National Assembly is informed of the audit plan and its amendments by the President of the State Audit Office of Hungary. In the annual report prepared for the National Assembly, the President of the State Audit Office of Hungary provides information on the audit activity, operation and financial management of the organisation over the preceding year, as well as the actions taken on the basis of audit findings. The State Audit Office of Hungary works out the professional rules and methods of its audits for itself, and makes these rules public.

 

As regards the duties of the State Audit Office of Hungary, the Act on the State Audit Office summarises the key audit areas: the management of public finances, the substantiality and viability of the budget appropriation bill, and the legality and expediency of the utilisation of the investment allocations falling in the scope of the statutory obligations of the State. The audit duties of the State Audit Office of Hungary also extend to the utilisation of social security finances and of separated state funds, as well as the financial management of local governments and minority local governments. The State Audit Office of Hungary has the right to widely audit the utilisation of funds granted free of charge for specific purposes from public finances. The audit powers of the organisation extend to auditing the handling of the assets falling in the scope of public finances, the management of such assets, and the contracts affecting the subsystems of public finances. The State Audit Office of Hungary audits the report on the final accounts prepared on the execution of the central budget, as well as the taxation and other income-generating activities of the state tax authority and of local governments. The audits of the State Audit Office also cover the legality of the financial management of the National Bank of Hungary and of political parties, and the utilisation of the subsidies granted to churches from public finances.

 

In view of the implementation of the audits of the State Audit Office of Hungary and the planning of the audits, the organisation audited or auditable under law is obligated to cooperate. Any non-compliance with the obligation of cooperation that impedes or frustrates the audit is a criminal offence that may entail criminal law consequences. The State Audit Office of Hungary prepares reports on the audits conducted by it. The reports include the uncovered facts, as well as the findings and conclusions based on these. The reports of the State Audit Office of Hungary are public documents. The reports of the State Audit Office of Hungary, and the findings and conclusions included in these reports cannot be challenged before a court or any other authority.

 

The State Audit Office of Hungary sends its report containing the audit findings to the head of the audited organisation. The head of the audited organisation must develop an action plan in response to the findings in the report and send that plan to the State Audit Office of Hungary. In the event the head of the audited organisation fails to submit the action plan on time, or submits an action plan that is still unacceptable, the President of the State Audit Office of Hungary may initiate opening criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the head of the audited organisation, or may initiate the suspension of the possibility of receiving a portion of the pledges of 1% of the personal income tax, or of the disbursement of subsidies or other allocations provided by any of the subsystems of the public finances.

 

The Act on the State Audit Office emphasises the advisory and assisting role of the State Audit Office of Hungary, and provides that with its findings, recommendations and advice based on its audit experiences, the State Audit Office of Hungary assists the National Assembly and its committees and the work of the audited organisations. Since its re-establishment in 1989, one of the key duties of the State Audit Office of Hungary in its advisory function is providing an opinion on the budget appropriation bill submitted by the Government, in the absence of which the National Assembly will not start the discussion of the budget appropriation bill. In view of the conveyance of audit experiences and the dissemination of good practices, the State Audit Office of Hungary holds regular press conferences and organises conferences. Its activity and reports, including summaries of the latter in English, are available on its website. The State Audit Office of Hungary edits the periodical Public Finance Quarterly, and publishes it in Hungarian and English every quarter.

 

Personnel of the State Audit Office of Hungary

 

The personnel of the State Audit Office of Hungary consists of its President, Vice-President, managers, auditors, public officials with at least secondary academic qualifications, administrators and employees falling within the scope of the Labour Code. The organisational structure of the State Audit Office of Hungary is contained in the Operational and Organisational Rules issued by the President. Auditors must have higher education qualifications, who fulfil executive or auditing tasks acting within the duties and authorities of the State Audit Office of Hungary or substantial supportive tasks. Auditors are appointed by the President of the State Audit Office of Hungary, and the legal relationship is created with the appointment and its acceptance.

 

The presidency or vice-presidency, or any managerial and auditor’s position at the State Audit Office of Hungary excludes holding an office at any organisation that receives subsidies or grants from any subsystem of public finances. During their employment at the State Audit Office of Hungary, the President, Vice-President, managers and auditors of the State Audit Office of Hungary cannot be members of the National Assembly or of the board of representatives of local governments, and cannot hold executive positions in advocacy groups; and apart from academic, lecturing, art, reviewing and editing roles and intellectual activities falling under legal protection, they cannot fulfil any other commissions, or pursue wage-earning occupations, or accept remuneration for other activities. The President, Vice-President, managers and auditors of the State Audit Office of Hungary cannot be close relatives either with one another, or with any official or member of the Government or of a Parliamentary committee competent in auditing matters.

 

In accordance with the rules concerning members of Parliament, the President and Vice-President of the State Audit Office of Hungary, upon their election and subsequently on an annual basis; and the managers and auditors of the State Audit Office of Hungary in accordance with the rules concerning public officials, upon their election and subsequently on an annual basis (managers) or biennially (auditors) are obligated to file asset declarations.

 

The registered office of the State Audit Office of Hungary is located in Budapest, with organisational units operating in all counties.