It is indeed a pleasure to have been invited to write this editorial for the Journal, and I welcome the opportunity to share some thoughts with colleagues in INTOSAI and the wider international community.
On July 1, 2004, I started my 12-year term as President of the Austrian Court of Audit. Concurrently, and consistent with the INTOSAI Statutes, I will also be serving as Secretary General of our organization for that period.
More than 50 years after its foundation in 1953, INTOSAI stands strongly as an international organization whose more than 180 member countries span the globe. INTOSAI can pride itself on the great number of accomplishments and goals that it has achieved, in which many of you have taken an active part.
As I look back on important milestones in INTOSAI’s development, the Lima Declaration on Guidelines on Auditing Precepts, endorsed during the 9th International Congress in 1977, stands among the central contributions that INTOSAI has offered to auditing.
The Lima Declaration sets forth the philosophy and framework of government auditing, its core missions and functions, as well as guidelines and principles that are reflected today in the constitutional and legal frameworks of many member countries. During this period, INTOSAI has charted a course towards continuous improvement in government audit and the active promotion of government management around the world.
INTOSAI’s progress has been steady, evolutionary, and evenly paced. Today, it extends its activities in a globalized context and transcends single issues and national, even regional, borders. Its development has been remarkable. It is a center of knowledge, information, and experience for the international audit community. It has produced a large amount of valuable knowledge in the most important fundamental fields of government audit, such as audit standards, accounting standards, internal control standards, and other professional guidelines. It has accomplished groundbreaking work and promoted professionalism in the missions we are called upon to accomplish. INTOSAI’s successful achievements impressively document that we have been able to live up to our motto of “Mutual Experience Benefits All” and that we have realized that there is an ongoing need for continuing cooperation within INTOSAI as well as with outside partners.
As incoming Secretary General to this organization, I am committed to upholding INTOSAI’s paramount principles, which have stood the test of time. They are
As I familiarize myself with the tasks and expectations awaiting me, I will ensure continuity and uphold time-proven traditions. At the same time, I see a need to blend old virtues with the needs and requirements of modern times. It is heartening to note that SAIs worldwide face a number of emerging issues and the perennial challenges associated with improving good government: tightening budgetary constraint and the related need to ensure even better use of public funds, improved accountability and transparency in the interest of taxpayers and those we serve, good governance, and a better public understanding of our roles and missions both at the national level and in globalized settings. These constraints and challenges have not halted at the door of our organization. This is why INTOSAI has developed a strategic plan that is to streamline and restructure the organization and equip it for the challenges of the 21st century. By sharing information and knowledge on an even wider scale, rationalizing our financial input with a view to the best possible value for money, setting an example as a model organization and learning from best practice, INTOSAI will, I am confident, go from strength to strength, creating benefit for all members, regardless of their level of development, affluence, or power, and redrafting the map of government audit in years to come.
As INTOSAI gears up for its next congress this October in Budapest, Hungary, I anticipate that this triennial gathering will be a platform for member SAIs from around the globe to strengthen and renew existing links, meet new colleagues and make new contacts, exchange ideas and experiences on subjects of common interest, and engage in lively debates with colleagues and friends under the umbrella of the big INTOSAI family. I am confident that the organization of this all-important event rests in the most able hands, the president of the Hungarian State Audit Office, Dr. Arpad Kovacs, and his experienced team. As a newcomer to the INTOSAI family, I look forward to meeting colleagues and counterparts in Budapest who will certainly provide me with the guidance and counsel I may need for my mission as Secretary General. I look forward to gaining an insider’s view of the workings, history, and future endeavors of INTOSAI, which will empower me to serve this organization to the best of my knowledge and belief in the interest of all of its members, the international audit community, befriended organizations, and the public at large.
As I take on the challenges of this mission, I feel fortunate that I can build on the strong foundation of my predecessor, Dr. Franz Fiedler, who has shared with me observations about the great value INTOSAI places on communication, cooperation, and knowledge. While I am devoted to continuing and enhancing this tradition and to ensuring a seamless transition, it is also my intention in the coming years to leave my own imprint on this organization and steer it safely, with foresight and circumspection, through the challenges of the upcoming decade. As Secretary General, my policy will be one of open ears and open doors for the concerns of all of our members, trying to remain at the pulse of the organization’s most pressing needs.
To achieve these ambitious objectives, I call on all INTOSAI members to involve themselves actively and lend their full support to INTOSAI’s activities and program and to make their contributions to resolving the issues and challenges we are facing. I am confident that by leading by example and guiding INTOSAI on its way to a genuine model organization, we will all--at the end of the day--together have made a difference consistent with our motto, goals, and aspirations.