Activity Report on 2019
Like many other countries, the Netherlands now finds itself in an unprecedented situation. The government has been forced to adopt a series of measures in response, and many organisations are feeling the impact. Parliament has adapted its working procedures to the situation and so have we.
Despite the current circumstances, we are today presenting a digital version of our Activity Report on 2019. In addition to listing the audit reports we published last year, it presents a selection of other activities we performed in 2019. A number of audits and activities are described in greater detail. In publishing this report on our activities, we are complying with our statutory obligation to present a report on our activities to parliament by 1 April.
Further to the publication of this Activity Report, we will be publishing a full Annual Report on 2019 on Accountability Day, i.e. the third Wednesday in May. The Annual Report contains both information on our publications as well as a section on our operational management. It also looks forward to the future, discussing the development of our strategy for 2021-2025 – a period in which we intend to do our best to achieve our mission of auditing the central government in order to improve its performance and operations.
How do we look back on 2019?
We presented our current strategy in 2016, in a document entitled Trust based on understanding, which formed the basis for our decision to adopt new working methods. We wanted to perform long-term audit programmes concentrating on topics of major financial relevance, such as care and social security, and thus create a clearer understanding of public money flows. We also wished to explore new audit techniques and opportunities for creating synergy with new disciplines, from data analysis to psychology.
In order to achieve these ambitions, we have adopted a number of long-term audit programmes during the period since 2016. We have also developed our own ‘data hub’, enabling us to raise the quality of our audits by analysing massive data sets.
These new working methods produced tangible results in 2019, a year in which our auditors examined a wide range of topics, from the infrastructure to the media. We also made progress in implementing a system of integrated reporting.
More audit reports published in 2019 than in 2018 and 2017
What did we audit in 2019?
We issued 57 publications in 2019: 40 audit reports, 2 web dossiers and 15 letters to the Dutch House of Representatives.
Twenty of our 40 audits formed part of the 2018 Accountability Audit. Our Accountability Audit Report is published in May every year. It consists of a series of reports in which we assess central government performance. Each of these reports centres on a particular chapter of the central government budget for the past year. In addition to the 20 individual accountability audits, we also published an overall report entitled State of Central Government Accounts and a Report on the National Declaration 2019.
Our Activity Report on 2019 highlights six specific audits:
- Cyber security and critical water structures
- Data-driven selection of tax returns by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration
- Livestock manure policy
- Income schemes for the elderly dissected
- Hilversum in view; he efficiency of the Dutch public broadcaster
- The cost of maintaining the Dutch waterway network (only in Dutch available)
What joint projects did we carry out in 2019?
We took part in a variety of partnerships with supreme audit institutions in other countries in 2019.
- Joint audit of preparations for bank resolution
We joined forces in 2019 with the supreme audit institutions in Germany, Estonia, Finland, Austria, Portugal and Spain to audit the preparations made by euro-area countries for the orderly and controlled resolution of failing banks. The joint audit report is due to be published in the course of 2020.
- Partnership with countries in the Arab region
A partnership programme known as the Sharaka programme was launched in 2016 with supreme audit institutions in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia and (a recent addition) Sudan. The aim of the programme is to strengthen the audit offices in these countries and thus to improve public administration and public financial management.
- Joint audit of the efficiency of the African oil and gas industry
2018 saw the launch of a partnership with AFROSAI-E (the African organisation of English-speaking supreme audit institutions) and the supreme audit institutions in Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique. The aim of the programme, which is scheduled to end in 2020, is to improve the quality and impact of audits of the efficiency of the oil and gas industry.
- Partnership with Constituency countries
For many years now, we have been providing technical assistance to our sister institutions in what are known as ‘Constituency countries’. These are countries represented by the Netherlands on the boards of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Our activities form part of the Minister of Finance’s policy on assisting these countries with their reform processes.
- We assisted with the institutional development of the supreme audit institution In Moldova in 2019, with a special focus on its audit strategy and its contacts with external stakeholders.
- We assisted the Georgian SAI in 2019 in improving the quality of its internal controls.
We are also an active member of a number of international umbrella organisations:
- the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI);
- the Contact Committee of the Heads of the Supreme Audit Institutions of the European Union; and
- the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).