Yangchen C Rinzin
The Royal Audit Authority (RAA) has now come up with rules and regulations to ensure that accountability is fixed for irregularities and lapses following audit observations.
This comes after Parliament’s joint sittings passed various resolutions to strengthen accountability system. The issue of fixing appropriate accountabilities for unresolved audit findings was deliberated in the last Parliament.
The last Parliament during a joint sitting on June 25 resolved that RAA must come up with clear procedures to fix accountability on lapses pertaining to performance audit report.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during the joint sitting reported that many RAA’s recommendations were not being implemented by concerned agencies. The PAC observed that unlike financial auditings, there were no procedures for fixing accountability on findings of performance audit.
The RAA had conducted a performance audit on the “preparedness for implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” with objectives to ascertain adaptation of 2030 Agenda by the government into its national context.
The RAA had issued five recommendations and asked the GNHC to submit its management action plan (MAP) and action taken report (ATR) in January 2019.
However, the GNHC failed to provide MAP and ATR within the deadline for review of its implementation status and the progress of implementation this year.
This is why the rules and regulation was developed in accordance with Audit Act of Bhutan 2018 to emphasise on accountability, speedier implementation of audit recommendations or timely actions on audit reports apart from applying uniform and consistent approach in holding officials accountable.
Of the many provisions put down under who would be accountable, accountability would be fixed on the official(s) who are directly responsible for audit findings or recommendations, according to the rules and regulations. When it comes to committee decisions, members would be held accountable.
If MAP and accountability statement is not submitted within the specified time, the RAA will fix the overall supervisory accountability invariably on the head of the agency for all the recommendations.
If any serious cases remain unresolved for 12 months after it is deliberated in the Parliament, it would now be referred to the Court of Law by the concerned agencies and if that is not done, accountability would be fixed to the head of agencies. Audit clearance would not be issued.
The rules and regulations also specified that management would be responsible to fix accountability on all audit findings and recommendations. It also has a provision that if an official(s) is held accountable wrongly or unfairly, the RAA will remove the name of those officials from the accountability statement and replace the names with those who are accountable.
The rules and regulations also cover on absolution of accountability process, exceptions and accountability and audit clearance. It stated that any individual who is held directly accountable on audit findings or recommendations would not be issued audit clearance until those findings or recommendations are settled.
“The system of holding someone accountable is only effective if there is a system to validate how responsibly that individual has responded to findings he or she was held accountable for,” the rules and regulations stated. “It is important that there is a robust follow-up mechanism in place.”