International Journal of Government Auditing – April
Audit Profile: Ghana Audit Service
In 1910, the Ghana Audit Service (GAS) was created in London as a colonial audit department. Originally called the Gold Coast Audit Department, it later became known as the Auditor-General’s Department. The 1969 Constitution of Ghana extended financial and administrative autonomy to the agency, and the 1972 Audit Service Decree established it as the GAS and strengthened its independence by establishing a seven-member Audit Service Board as its governing body. The board consists of the chairman, four representatives appointed by the president acting in consultation with the Council of State, the auditor-general, and the head of the Civil Service. The Audit Service Act of 2000 (Act 584), which derives most of its provisions from the 1992 Constitution, further enhanced the mandate of the GAS.
The GAS exists to promote good governance—transparency, accountability, and probity—in the public financial management system of Ghana by auditing the management of public resources in accordance with recognized international auditing standards and reporting to Parliament. Its vision is to become one of the leading supreme audit institutions in the world by 2010, delivering professional, excellent, and cost-effective auditing services.
By law, the GAS is required to audit all public accounts of Ghana and report on them to Parliament within 6 months after the end of each financial year. Its mandate includes accounts of the courts, central and local government administrations, public universities and other schools, and all public corporations or other bodies or organizations established by an act of Parliament.The auditor-general also has authority to conduct compliance, financial, and performance audits on his own initiative or at the request of the president or Parliament.
Legal Authority and Independence
The auditor-general is appointed by the president in consultation with the Council of State. Under the 1992 Constitution and Act 584, the auditor-general is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority and has the power to disallow any item of expenditure that is contrary to law. In addition, the auditor-general retains the power to impose surcharges for disallowed expenditures and to have access to all books, records, returns, or other documents relating to active accounts. Internal auditors of any public institution or body must submit copies of all reports issued as a result of internal audit work to the auditor-general.
The GAS headquarters is in Accra, the capital, where about 40 percent of its 1,379 employees work. In addition, the GAS has 10 regional offices and, within the regions, 98 district offices. Five deputy auditors-general work under the direction of the auditor-general. Twenty-three assistant auditors-general head the regional offices, and most of the 61 directors are responsible for the district offices.
Professional development is an ongoing activity provided through in-house as well as external training programs. The external training programs include courses offered by the United States Government Accountability Office, the United Kingdom National Audit Office, and the African Organization of English Speaking Supreme Audit Organizations (AFROSAI-E). The GAS also sponsors officers’ undergraduate and graduate studies in local universities and other institutions of higher education to obtain professional designations offered by professional accountancy institutions.
Institutional Development Plan
With the assistance of the European Union, the GAS prepared a 5-year corporate institutional renewal plan for 2004–2008. The plan covers human resources, audit methodology, information technology, infrastructure, logistics support, and financial resources. As part of the plan, 90 senior staff underwent year-long training in new financial audit methodologies.
The GAS Board approved a financial audit manual, and more than 700 copies were made available to audit offices throughout Ghana. Auditors and team leaders in all district offices have been trained in using the financial audit manual to conduct audits.
A performance audit department was created under the jurisdiction of a deputy auditor-general. It is headed by a director, and the 23 trained performance auditors working under his supervision include quantity surveyors, lawyers, architects, engineers, and accountants. A performance audit manual has also been produced.
An information technology (IT) department was also created, and modern IT equipment was installed. An IT manual was developed and is being used.
The GAS gained financial independence from the Treasury Department in January 2004. It has introduced management systems to assist in applications of modern accounting, human resource, and personnel management policies and practices.
The GAS is a member of INTOSAI; the African Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI); and AFROSAI-E, AFROSAI’s subregional English-speaking group. The auditor-general is currently the vice chairman of the AFROSAI-E Governing Board.
The GAS is currently reviewing its processes and methodologies to meet current and future demands. Future plans include the following:
For further information, contact the Ghana Audit Service: