We are all living in a continuously changing, transformative environment. While digital transformation of business processes at auditees are progressing at a rocket pace, there is a high uncertainty of what SAIs should do with these and what innovations of digitalization-answers will be successful and needed in a longer term.
SAIs should find answers how to audit new techniques, like robots and artificial machines – keeping in mind that there are still auditees like small municipalities, who are not aware of any digital change – and should themselves apply digital technologies in their own activities and audit processes.
Most of the organizations invest heavily in new technologies, others simply do not take a single step to develop their context. Consequently, sometimes as auditors we cannot even use new methods, new techniques as we first should enhance the auditee’s to foster leadership driven transformation. On the other hand–when we find new solutions for nearing innovations and changes in audit environment – it is not really a goal to sometimes feel like Marty in Back to the Future, taking the driver’s seat in DeLorean, and looking around surprised. These new solutions, new directions indeed have to be focused, directed, and put in an intentionally created framework.
The very first step might be the mapping of digital maturity of the auditee-population. This might correlate with the numbers (the bigger the budget, the more developed processes are used) or simply prioritize the auditees based on the significance of institution in state budget; or significance/relevancy of public service they provide.
Another area would be to innovate the data collection methods of SAIs. (This is a significant project at SAO Hungary.) Real time connection to systems of auditees or secured, validated, legally reachable and trusted sources of information (moreover documentation) or direct collection of data are all areas of progression.
The change in auditee-techniques, or in the methodologies used are also means of moving forward. SAO Hungary created a so called ‘TechProject’ for that. The goals are keep sailing downwind - methodological changes had already started years ago -, and determine new easy-way audit programs.
SAO of Hungary decided to make several changes besides the above, but let us start with the kick-off of all: the legal mandate.
The requirement to apply modern IT solutions is already set out in Government Decision No. 44/2019. (XI. 19.), where the National Assembly recognised the State Audit Office of Hungary’s activity in 2018 to facilitate the transition to the digital auditing environment, and expressed the intent that it supports all other activities of the State Audit Office of Hungary to promote the provision of data from an authentic source as a result of digital data processing, and the authenticity and appropriateness of audited entities’ data provision and reporting in compliance with the legislative provisions.
As to our view, this clear intention of the Parliament realizing that tracking and exploiting explosive development requires a paradigm shift, new approaches, new methods, new thinking from organisations, keeping in mind that digitisation is a tool and not a goal.
Our SAO intends to become a model organisation in terms of digitisation: we have to develop the internal technological environment while adapting to the external audit environment, as well as building the appropriate channels to stakeholders and developing contact points, platforms.