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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Auditor-General Angry about leakage of audit findings



The acting Auditor-General, Mr. Richard Quartey, has moved swiftly to clarify issues concerning the purported audit findings made against the Ministry of Information. It will be recalled that some media houses including state owned Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times, using a purported audit report on the Information Ministry as their source, accused some former government officials of misapplying state funds.

But the acting Auditor General has explained that the said information was not put out by his office or any of his staff, adding that the issues published by those newspapers and carried on some radio stations are the contents of a management letter issued to the Ministry of Information for their response and comments on how it intends to address the audit findings and recommendations.

The Auditor General made the comments at a media orientation workshop organized for members of the Parliamentary Press Corps at Sogakope over the weekend. The workshop, organized and sponsored by the Canadian Parliamentary Centre, was aimed at building capacity of members of the press corps in the run-up to the public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee scheduled to take place next week.

The acting Auditor-General further explained that a management letter is not the same as the Auditor-General's Annual Report “that is submitted to parliament yearly on various irregularities and resolved issues compiled from the various management letters that were issued by the Auditor-General in the Course of the reporting period."

He indicated that in the case of the management letter in question, the Ministry of Information is obliged by section 29 of the Audit Service Act 2000, Act 584 to furnish the Auditor General within 30 days, with a formal response to the issues contained in the management letter. "Until this is done, the contents of the management letter cannot be said to be conclusive", he maintained.

"It is only where no response is received or after a response is received by the Auditor-General but the response does not satisfactorily address or conclusively resolve the audit findings that the issues can be confirmed as true or resolved and might find their way into the next Auditor-General's Annual Report to Parliament." He added; "I would therefore like to emphasize that the said report is only a management letter and the contents and conclusions are subject to eventual change based on the audited entity's response and ability to resolve any observations/findings or irregularities alleged in the Management Letter", he observed.

According, to Mr Quartey, audit reports issued by his office as management letters are not intended for general public consumption, adding that they confirm that the constitutional obligation that specified entities are to be audited annually has been charged.

He indicated that management letters are intended to make the audited entity aware of the results of their audit inspection and afford management the opportunity to respond to any audit findings. He continued; "The response required, when given, would indicate management's formal view of the reported findings and recommendations and what corrective action if any, management has taken to address the findings and recommendations in the management letter."

He said it is an opportunity for management to make amends before the findings are reported to Parliament and the issuance of the management letter assures all auditees of the openness fairness and integrity of the auditing process.

"Consequently, the contents of any such management letter becomes material for public consumption only after it has been included in the Auditor-General's Annual Report to Parliament and presented to the Speaker to be laid before Parliament in accordance with the statutory mandate in article 187 clause 2 of the 1992 constitution and section 11 (1) of the Audit Service Act 2000, Act 584," he told the parliamentary press corps. He therefore cautioned the media not to do anything that would jeopardize the work of the Audit Service by publishing matters that have not been properly concluded.

“I would humbly ask politicians, administrators and the media alike to all respect these protocols and observe them to avoid any embarrassment," he advised.

Source: The Independent

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