IFAC-CIPFA Framework Receives Backing, Support from INTOSAI

Vincent Tophoff | August 26, 2014 |

Earlier this year I had the honor to present a sneak peek of the International Framework: Good Governance in the Public Sector (the Framework) at the Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).

Now that the Framework is officially published by IFAC and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), the next challenge, of course, is the proper application of the principles in the Framework, which is so often where the problems lie. For that reason IFAC and CIPFA, together with the IFAC member bodies, have begun efforts to bring the Framework to the attention of those who are in a position to make use, or even need, the Framework. That is, those specifically associated with governance—governing body members, senior managers, and those involved in scrutinizing the effectiveness of governance, including internal and external auditors.

We are thrilled that INTOSAI is one of the organizations that has responded so positively to both the development of the Framework and the invitation from IFAC and CIPFA to work together to disseminate the Framework to support public sector entities with the continuous improvement of their governance arrangements.

INTOSAI is the global umbrella organization for the external government audit and accountability community. Its roughly 200 members are the comptroller general/auditor general offices of many nations around the world. It provides a platform to promote development and the transfer of knowledge; improve government auditing worldwide; and enhance the professional capacities, standing, and influence of members in their respective countries.

INTOSAI’s member organizations, various national audit institutions, play an important role in establishing good governance in their countries. They are key players in holding governments to account, e.g., by examining whether public funds are spent economically and efficiently in compliance with existing rules and regulations and, increasingly, by providing performance-related information on the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of government institutions and programs.

For these reasons, INTOSAI and its member bodies form a very effective channel for the promotion of good governance in public sector entities. Over the years, INTOSAI has developed a considerable amount of specific guidance for encouraging good governance in the public sector (examples are available online). The IFAC/CIPFA Framework complements INTOSAI guidance as it discusses topics that are not yet specifically covered by the INTOSAI guidelines (see box below).

So, as I said, we are thrilled to have the support and backing of INTOSAI. We are fully committed to continuing our collaboration with INTOSAI, its Subcommittee on Internal Control Standards, and the various national audit institutions in this effort!

In addition to INTOSAI and working with IFAC member bodies, how else could we further leverage the Framework among public sector entities and their stakeholders?

Content of the International Framework Good Governance in the Public Sector

The key to good governance in the public sector is public sector entities achieving the intended outcomes while acting in the public interest at all times.

Although the Framework identifies what good governance in the public sector looks like and defines the term, the critical content of the Framework are the seven principles required in establishing good governance in the public sector.

  1. Behaving with integrity, demonstrating strong commitment to ethical values, and respecting the rule of law
  2. Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement
  3. Defining outcomes in terms of sustainable economic, social, and environmental benefits
  4. Determining the interventions necessary to optimize the achievement of the intended outcomes
  5. Developing the entity’s capacity, including the capability of its leadership and the individuals within it
  6. Managing risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management
  7. Implementing good practices in transparency, reporting, and audit to deliver effective accountability

The Framework and its supplement also include:

  • application guidance;
  • implementation tips;
  • examples;
  • questions to consider; and
  • recommendations for additional information.

Vincent Tophoff

Senior Technical Manager

Vincent Tophoff is senior technical manager with the Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) Committee of IFAC. Previously, he was a partner at INTE-Q Integration Management, a management accountancy consulting firm in The Netherlands and senior lecturer at the postgraduate accountancy program of the Vrije University in Amsterdam.  See more by Vincent Tophoff

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