The Philippine Commission on Audit (COA) updated its professional standards framework emphasizing independence of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), good practices of transparency and accountability and revisions on financial, compliance and performance audits guidelines.
COA adopted the Revised Framework of Professional Standards through Resolution No. 2016-007 on May 3, 2016. The framework was based on a study of applicable laws using the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) and in harmony with the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Framework of Professional Standards.
Included in the revised framework is ISSAI 10 or The Mexico Declaration on SAI Independence which sets up eight core principles for SAI independence: existence of an appropriate and effective constitutional/statutory/legal framework; independence of SAI heads and members of collegial institutions; sufficiently broad mandate and full discretion in the discharge of SAI functions; unrestricted access to information; rights and obligation to report on work; freedom to decide the content and timing of audit reports and to publish and disseminate them; existence of effective follow-up mechanisms on SAI recommendations; and financial and managerial/administrative autonomy and the availability of appropriate human, material and monetary resources. ISSAI 10 was approved by INTOSAI members at the XIXth Congress held in Mexico in 2007.
The COA Revised Framework of Professional Standards also include ISSAI 11 on Guidelines and Good Practices Related to SAI Independence, ISSAI 12 on the Value and benefits of Supreme Audit- making a difference to the lives of citizens, and ISSAI 21 on Principles of Transparency and Accountability- Principles and Good Practices.
COA also adopted revisions made by the INTOSAI regarding fundamental concepts and principles of the three types of audit- financial, compliance and performance audits.
COA first issued the Framework of Professional Standards through COA Resolution No. 2013-006 on January 29, 2013 to provide an overview of all the standards and guidelines for public sector auditing, assurance engagements and other related services in the Philippines and to harmonize current standards in the Philippines with international standards on auditing. #
The Commission on Audit (COA) highlights its role as a vibrant partner in nation-building as it marks its 117th anniversary through week-long activities from May 2-6, 2016.
“This year’s theme expresses the Commission’s invaluable role in shaping our Republic in collaboration and cooperation with internal and external partners, the citizenry and all government institutions,” observed Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo.
Commissioner Jose A. Fabia noted that “safeguarding public funds and properties for 117 years is an impressive feat” and encouraged COAns to continue to do their best. “Beyond financial and compliance audit is enabling the agencies we work with so they can become better in the work that they do. We are enablers and we guide our auditees so that they can do their jobs effectively, efficiently and economically,” Commissioner Fabia said.
“COA has always been in the forefront in detecting frauds in public finances with the view that audit can be and is indeed a tool for social and economic change,” said Commissioner Isabel D. Agito.
Highlight of the celebrations is the “COA Salutes the Best” program honoring COAns who have performed their duties with utmost excellence and courage and beyond expectations held at the COA Sports and Cultural Complex on May 5, 2016. The Gawad Kahusayan for the best audit performance was awarded to the Audit Teams of the National Capital Region-06, National Museum and the Department of Education Audit Group of the National Government Sector.
Festivities also include sports competitions, a seminar on permaculture, a symposium on Philippine Public Sector Accounting Standards and Philippine Public Sector Standards on Auditing, a briefing on the Barangay Financial Manual and the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015, and various livelihood program seminars conducted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
From its beginnings as the Office of the Insular Auditor of the Philippine Islands created through an unnumbered memorandum signed by then US President William McKinley on May 8, 1899, the Commission on Audit’s evolution reflects the journey of the nation.
The institution was renamed twice under American civil rule, as the Bureau of the Insular Auditor in 1901 and the Bureau of Audits in 1905, both under the Executive branch. Under the 1935 Constitution, it became an independent constitutional body known as the General Auditing Office. Echoing the period in which the nation was preparing for self-governance during the Commonwealth era, the organization was also headed for the first time by a Filipino Auditor- General. The Commission evolved into a three-person collegial body under the 1973 Constitution. While the 1987 Constitution retained this structure, it also gave the Commission greater independence and scope as the sole external auditor of all government agencies and instrumentalities.
Now on its 117th year, the Commission continues to enact reforms for the Commission to create a positive impact in governance; empower and enable agencies; improve delivery of high quality, fair and timely audits; increase stakeholder ownership and understanding; strengthen its capacity and capability; and enhance its support infrastructure.
Congratulations COAns and happy 117th anniversary!
COA Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo (4th from right) with members of the Philippine Delegation to the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Also in picture is COA Director Fortunata M. Rubico (third from left).
The Commission on Audit (COA) showcased its pioneering work in the audit of Gender and Development (GAD) funds at the side event entitled “Show Me the Money: How Governments Allocate and Audit Funds to Achieve Gender Equality as a 2030 Sustainable Development Goal” during the 60th Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held at the UN Headquarters in New York City on March 16, 2016.
The COA, together with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as the lead agency and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), gave a holistic presentation on what the Philippine Government is doing to allocate funds for programs and projects geared towards greater women empowerment from planning and budgeting (DBM) to implementation and monitoring (DSWD for sample program) and audit and reporting (COA). The side event was sponsored by the Philippine Delegation to the 60th Session of the UNCSW.
COA Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo talked about COA’s accomplishments in the audit of GAD allocated funds and the plan for a results-focused audit approach as the Commission’s commitment to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Gender Equality under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo gives a presentation entitled “Show Me The Outcomes: Ensuring Accountability on Gender Program Allocations Through Results-Focused Audit Approach” at the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
“We are humbled by the thought that we are one of the INTOSAI/ASOSAI member countries that has done pioneering work in the audit of gender-allotted funds. Committed to our mission, we will continue to oversee the strict implementation by all government agencies of the gender responsive policies, programs, projects and activities in the country,” Assistant Commissioner Castillo said.
“As the Philippine Government commits to the 2030 Agenda, COA would willingly join the convergence of the various implementing agencies. It has, in fact, started developing its own framework towards results-focused audit approach of GAD-related programs and activities through appropriate utilization of GAD-allotted funds. It will continue to be a leading pillar of transparent and accountable governance and a vibrant partner in nation-building,” she added. (To read the final paper, please click here)
Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Titon Mitra with COA officials and audit team members, and representatives from the UNDP, National Economic and Development Authority and implementing partners at the General Audit Debriefing on the FY 2015 Harmonized Approach To Cash Transfer (HACT) Transitional Audit Exercise on April 8, 2016.
The Commission on Audit (COA) successfully culminated the FY 2015 Harmonized Approach To Cash Transfer (HACT) Transitional Audit Exercise for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-supported projects and programmes.
COA presented the highlights of the audit and audit opinion rendered on the financial reports at an audit debriefing held at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Boardroom in Pasig City on April 8, 2016.
The UNDP has sought the assistance of COA to provide annual audit services to UNDP supported projects and programmes. For the 2015 HACT Transitional Audit Exercise, audit teams focused on the areas of cash management, finance, asset management, procurement, general administration, human resource, assessment of the project’s internal control, and a general review of the project’s progress and timeliness in relation to progressed milestones and planned completion date.
Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo emphasized the valued partnership between UNDP and the COA while UNDP Country Director Titon Mitra welcomed the efforts of the audit teams in helping the UNDP ascertain the proper use of its resources.
As in the previous audits, COA is bound by the provisions of the Terms of Reference and guided by the UNDP Accounting Policies. In comparison with former UNDP audit exercises however, this present audit focused on the validation of almost 100% of the UNDP assets, exempting only those that are impractical to validate. COA Assistant Commissioner Susan P. Garcia is the Project Manager.
COA, UNDP, and NEDA officials with implementing partners consisting of various government agencies and intergovernmental/non-government organizations and COA audit teams attended the event. # – with report from Jennifer Andrea S. Imperial
Land Bank of the Philippines Assistant Vice President Reynaldo C. Copa explains the features of the new Check Image Clearing System at a presentation before COA officials and auditors on April 7, 2016.
Officials of the Commission on Audit (COA) and representatives from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) discussed the various features and issues relating to the new Check Image Clearing System (CICS) to provide faster movement of funds and reduce or eliminate fraud at a presentation held at the COA CP Boardroom on April 7, 2016.
In the new CICS, a deposited check will be scanned and its electronic payment information and image will be transmitted throughout the entire clearing cycle. The original physical check will be removed from the clearing process. The new system is part of the Philippine Clearing House Corp. (PCHC)’s automated clearing system that integrates the CICS with the Electronic Fund Transfer Network.
LBP Assistant Vice President Reynaldo C. Copa, in his presentation, said the system will address geographical limitation by eliminating movement of physical paper, streamline the process and create a faster & more secured payment exchange environment.
“This new system will reduce the number of days for a check to be cleared. For instance, if a check deposited within cut-off time or 3 pm today, funds will be made available for withdrawal by 3 pm the next day. There will also be controls put in place to protect the integrity of the scanned checks,” Mr. Copa said.
The six minimum mandatory check security features are: security fibers (visible & invisible), embedded watermark of the PCHC logo, microprint of bank initials along the signatory line, microprint of the security printer’s name along the date line, “Copy” pantograph, and erasable ultraviolet (UV) ink/UV security features. To protect the payee, a drawer’s conformity statement will be included. The new checks will be launched by July 2016.
COA officials, for their part, expressed concern regarding the legality of the scanned checks as evidence, other requirements of investigating bodies and additional security features of the new check clearing system. COA officials said the rules of evidence should catch up with this new development in the banking system.
The LBP representatives also asked COA to revisit COA Circular No. 2012-005 on Prescribing the use of Punong Barangay Certification (PBC) and COA Auditor’s Advice (CAA) which provides, among others, the preparation of the CAA to a Government Servicing Bank holding further payment of checks issued by a barangay that has not submitted a copy of the PBC and other required documents. LBP and COA officials discussed various ways by which barangays can avoid being penalized a hefty amount for stop payments but must still be able to comply with the required documents.
Other LBP officials who attended the presentation were Vice President Ma. Eloisa C. Dayrit (Head, Banking Services Group), Vice President Ana S. Concha (Head, System Implementation Dept.), Mr. Raymond Santos of the System Implementation Dept. and COA-LBP branch manager Lourdes E. Flor. #