Internal Audit Directorate Capacitates MDAs, SOEs, and local councils in implementing the standard operating procedures for audit follow-up and recommendations

In a bid to address the persistent weaknesses in internal control systems highlighted by the annual audit reports from the Audit Service, Sierra Leone (ASSL), which has resulted in the low implementation rate of both internal and external audit recommendations, deterioration in internal control systems and significant losses in public funds, the Ministry of Finance in the Finance Act of 2022 introduced sanctions to incentivise and elevate the implementation rate of audit recommendations with clear provisions and punitive actions for defaulters in the Finance Act of 2024.

Similarly, in 2022, the World Bank funded the development of a Standard Operating Procedures Manual (SOP) for follow-up on audit recommendations that the Cabinet approved in the same year.

According to the Director of Internal Audit, Kandeh Sesay, the SOP now stands as a beacon guiding the way for impactful follow-up practices.

He further stated that the SOPs Manual lays the groundwork for understanding and implementing audit recommendations to an appreciable level.

Director Sesay continues to state that they have developed a Digital Tracking Tool to track the implementation of audit recommendations.

He noted that this digital transformation will enhance the audit follow-up by providing real-time information for informed decision-making.

He stated the accompanying software will not only fortify the role of various stakeholders in the audit process but also offer updated information on the implementation status of audit recommendations across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including Embassies, State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and Local Councils (LCs).

Kandeh Sesay informs his audience that the Government of Sierra Leone and the European Union jointly funded training and roll-out of the Manual to 15 MDAs and their respective Audit Committees in June 2023, noting that now, with support from UK International Development, they are equipping key process owners from 21 remaining MDAs and 16 active SOEs with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the new SOPs in their respective areas of responsibility with a total of 366 participants from Audit Committees, MDAs and SOEs.

Chairman of the Government Audit Committee, Dr Claudius-Tucker, admonished Controllers that they implement audit recommendations on a timely basis and support their audit committees to ensure effective follow-up of audit recommendations.

This roll-out is expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of audit follow-up processes across the government, increased understanding and awareness of the new SOPs on Audit Follow-up among internal audits, key process owners, and Audit Committees., and enhance the capacity of key process owners and Audit Committees to implement and oversee the implementation of the new SOPs and enhanced understanding of process owners of their responsibilities in the audit process.

©MOF Communications