Rights and duties of the National Audit Office upon auditing

Tiina Ojasalu | 7/1/2009 | 2:25 PM

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The National Audit Office needs information for reporting on the basis of which to draw conclusions and assess the activities of the audited. To obtain data required for auditing the National Audit Office can take three different types of procedural steps: request information, get explanations and conduct observations.

The National Audit Office must draw up a procedure notice in order to take any procedural steps. A procedure notice is a document that specified procedural steps, their time and the names of the officials of the National Audit Office taking the steps and the names of the experts involved. A procedure notice is submitted to an institution or person with regard to whom procedural steps will be taken.

The audited must provide the auditors with the conditions necessary for the procedural steps, incl. the required premises and means of communication. In order to create the required conditions for the audited the National Audit Office informs the audited of the audit and the goals thereof within reasonable time before commencing the audit.

The request for information means the right of the National Audit Office to examine the entire information required for auditing, incl. such information which is subject to access restrictions. An additional restriction applies only to state secrets and classified external information: such information can be accessed by the officials of the National Audit Office who, according to the State Secrets and Classified External Information Act, has obtained the access right to the respective level of state secrets or classified external information.

The audited is obligated to provide the National Audit Office with information required for its work and to allow to make copies, transcripts and extracts of documents. With good reason, for instance, if there is reason to believe that the audited may destroy important evidence (in the case of fraud), the National Audit Office has the right to confiscate documents, seal files and places of storage of documents, money and material values.

The National Audit Office can receive information for auditing from entities and individuals who are not audited. State authorities and cities and rural municipalities are obligated to assist the National Audit Office in obtaining the data required for auditing if the National Audit Office so requires.

Often, the data received from other entities and individuals may give the National Audit Office important information about the transactions and financial conditions of the audited. Thus, the National Audit Office has the right to receive data, certificates and transcripts of the documents of the transactions, transfers and other such operations of the audited from banks and other credit institutions. The National Audit Office has the right to receive information on the audited from professional auditors, audit firms and internal auditors of the audited. In such an event the receipt of information also includes access to the working papers and other audit documents of the auditor.

Unfortunately, not all the information required for auditing is available in writing and it is necessary to question or interview the public servants or management members of the audited. Also, the National Audit Office can ask the audited to reply to its questions in writing. The aforementioned method of gathering information is called collection of explanations. To get an explanation the National Audit Office has, among other things, the right to demand that an employee or official of the audited appear before the National Audit Office in order to give explanations.

Observation may prove to be necessary in the course of auditing. An observation is a procedural step in the course of which the National Audit Office’s officials authorised and the experts specified in the procedure notice have the right to enter the territory and objects of the audited, check the existence of assets and property on site by carrying out inventories and control measurements. The audited must, for the purpose of enabling an observation, unconditionally and immediately grant the auditors access to any and all objects and places in its possession that are important from the point of view of auditing.

If the taking of procedural steps by the National Audit Office is impeded, the National Audit Office will notice the Select Committee on the Control of the State Budget of the Riigikogu thereof. Concealing information required for auditing, refusal from or evasion of giving information or explanations, submission of forged documents, knowingly giving false explanations, and obstruction of an observation is considered obstruction of procedural steps.

In connection with procedural steps the National Audit Office is obligated to refrain from disturbing the work of the audited more than required for taking the procedural steps. Thus, the audited must take into account the working times of the institution, the rules of internal procedure, and refrain from asking for the data and documents that are available in public databases or on websites. Also, the National Audit Office has the right to ask the audited only for such information that is required for auditing. If the audited has doubts about the relevance of a request for information, the audited has the right to receive explanations from the National Audit Office about the goal of the request.
 

  • Posted: 7/1/2009 2:25 PM
  • Last Update: 5/12/2010 3:53 PM
  • Last Review: 5/12/2010 3:53 PM