Focus audits at the Netherlands Court of Audit
Enhancing relevance and impact through rapid, responsive audits
In a fast-moving, dynamic and complex world, Supreme Audit Institutions have a duty to enhance their relevance and ensure they make a positive impact to the benefit of their stakeholders. This can require new solutions to challenges, for example a new style of audit when traditional financial, compliance and performance audits might struggle to respond sufficiently quickly to new or emerging issues. Following the UK National Audit Office, the Netherlands Court of audit introduced and developed a rapid and responsive audit function.
Why do we use this method?
This type of audit enables us to increase our adaptability, conduct research within a shorter lead time (14 weeks), respond to current or emerging issues (e.g. COVID-19) and provide facts to the public debate. Without the inclusion of any conclusions and/or recommendations, our focus audits allow readers to form their own opinion based on facts from our report. Not only do our own colleagues recognize the added value of this product, the short reports with a defined research question are also well received by the media and Members of Parliament.
What does this method involve?
A focus investigation is topical, fast, focused, factual, concise and descriptive.
- Topical: Focus audits look at relevant and topical issues.
- Fast: To be topical, focus audits are carried out relatively quickly: at most 14 weeks from start to publication.
- Focused: Focus audits have a defined scope and a clear focus. This is reflected in the research question, which is usually, ‘Is it true that…?’ (fact check).
- Factual: We exercise our powers in order to bring the facts of a topical discussion to light. We therefore report only the facts (in context) and do not express any conclusions and/or recommendations.
- Concise and explanatory: Focus audits culminate in concise, explanatory and clear reports.
What are the results?
EUROSAI Investigations Summer School: on the back of two successful webinars in July and December 2020, the Netherlands Court of Audit and the UK National Audit Office are organising a summer school in The Hague from 5 to 8 July 2021. During this four-day get-together, we will be sharing our experience of introducing focus investigations in our respective organisations and learning from each other.
Questions, ideas or remarks? contact us @ NCAInvestigations@rekenkamer.nl.