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Auditing for Integrity in the Public Sector

The traditional role of audit is changing. With auditors being increasingly seen as guardians of good governance, auditing for integrity is more essential than ever.  

Confidence in national governments is declining while perceptions of corruption are on the rise. More and more, citizens are questioning the integrity of their politicians and political institutions. There is no silver bullet for restoring public trust, but there are key actors who can enable change. By auditing elements of an integrity system or the system as a whole, internal and external auditors are adding a new dimension to their accountability role. They are making sure that citizens can trust their leaders to deliver policies efficiently, effectively, and with integrity.

Why audit integrity issues?

Auditors play a crucial role in supporting more open and effective government institutions. They provide assurance to citizens that decision-making processes operate effectively in the public interest. Over time, the auditors’ role has changed – they are no longer solely seen as a link in the accountability chain that checks financial statements and balance sheets. Instead, auditors are facing demands from stakeholders to assess the ethical climate of governments and their institutions. But this shift raises some important questions: do auditors have the mandate to do this? Are integrity-related issues actually auditable? And if so, what tools and guides  are available? This section explores why auditors are well placed to hold governments and public institutions to account for their ethical behaviour, and exactly how they can do this.