The European Court of Auditors (ECA) is poised to offer ‘landscape reviews’ on the risks to EU public financial management on EU accountability and audit arrangements, says Lazaros S. Lazarou, member of the European Court of Auditors, in an essay included in a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) called Breaking out: public audit’s new role in a post-crash world.
Explaining developments in the ECA’s role, Mr Lazarou refers to the ECA’s 2013-2017 strategy which states that: 'The ECA will use its unique powers and perspective and the knowledge, expertise and partnerships it has built up over 35 years to contribute. It will help other parties in the EU accountability process to identify risks to EU accountability and facilitate their use of audit results; enhance its professionalism by contributing to and applying new audit standards and good practices; further streamline its processes for producing its reports and opinions; and improve its performance and accountability framework.'
Mr Lazarou joins other public audit experts in this report, who all offer an upbeat reflection of the auditor’s role in accountability and improving public service from Australia to Jamaica, Scotland to Bhutan. The writers speak about improving public engagement and strengthening scrutiny and public service effectiveness.
Gillian Fawcett, ACCA’s Head of Public Sector and a fellow contributor in the report, said: 'As the boundaries of public audit widens, the role of the public sector will need to expand to play a more crucial role in correcting the way public money is spent and accounted for.
'Auditor generals around the world need to remain vigilant in their roles as guardians of public confidence through greater transparency, being clearer about the long-term consequences of decisions, identifying opportunities for improvement and always being seen as being independent and representing the public interest.'
Ms Fawcett concludes: 'Auditors must intervene earlier in the processes by which money is allocated to departments. A strong argument has been made that it is only by doing this that problems can be nipped in the bud. Providing assurance in the early stage of a project can limit the administrative failures, preventing them from spiralling into significant value for money failures.'
Mr Lazarou concludes: 'External audit is an important element in the governance structure of the EU. The ECA is addressing the challenges from developments in the EU public sector environment and will continue to contribute effectively in strengthening EU democratic accountability, building EU citizen’s trust.'