19 December 2012

Liberia: GAC Undergoes Reforms

Auditor General Robert Kilby says he has begun to reform the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conform to international best practice following heated controversies that overwhelmed the anti-graft agency.

When he took over the GAC few months ago, Mr Kilby found himself embroiled in hullabaloo with several auditors and staff that he had retired due to "overstaffing and duplication of functions".

Mr. Kilby told our reporter through a spokesman yesterday that GAC was

facing "one of its toughest moments due to inherited challenges ranging from over-staffing of central administration over the main audit department to duplication of functions."

Kilby said he has been disturbed by the exposure of audit reports to the public before their submission to the National legislature and the President.

He cited that one of such audit reports was published in a local daily last week, accusing

several local government officials of corrupt practices. Though the report in question was released one year ago under the administration of then Acting Auditor General Winsley Nankan, Mr. Kilby said it "continues to negatively portray and politicize the GAC," which, he described as "an audit-based professional anti-graft institution."

Mr. Kilby wonders how and why the report got to the press last week without his knowledge or acquiescence "remains a mystery".

Meanwhile, AG Kilby affirmed that the onus is now on him and his team to transform the GAC from politicization to its original posture of "an audit-based professional institution by adhering to the recommendations of the EU and Afrosac peer review observation on the organization, management and human resource at GAC."

The European Union has been funding the GAC through long-term technical assistance under a project involving strengthening the internal methodologies of GAC which include support to quality assurance.

EU focuses on the operational and administrative difficulties that GAC has been facing in implementing quality control methodologies that were developed in order to address these problems.

Kilby said GAC was determined to focus on its strategic plan mandating that at least 75 percent of its audit reports pass the QC (quality control) test. "This was to be achieved by developing and implementing a QC strategy and policy and the establishment of the QC unit. In this respect, QC was to adopt a Total Quality Management approach (TQM) with its three pillars of Quality Control, Quality Assurance and Institutional management."

In a paper prepared for GAC, EU said: "Organizations today, GAC included, face a crisis in strategy, not because they cannot formulate a strategy, but the crisis lies in the implementation of the strategy. To put this into perspective, a research that was done by balanced Scorecard Collaborative in 2006 showed the following statistics: 95 per cent of typical workforce does not understand its organizational strategy; 90 per cent organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully' 86 per cent of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy; 70 per cent of organizations do not link middle management incentives to strategy; and 60 per cent of organizations do not link strategy to budgeting."

The paper said, "GAC will focus on quality audits as goal five in the GAC strategic plan. Therefore, it said successful implementation of the GAC strategic plan will move GAC towards achieving its strategic objective of ensuring consistency with international standards."

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