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Auditing for Innovation

Unprecedented technological and social change continue to disrupt the world around us.

Governments face policy challenges that are increasingly complex, interconnected and often unpredictable. The old ways of working are no longer suitable: to be effective, governments need to innovate and adapt policy responses and methods of service delivery to a fast-changing society. And they need to do this while meeting high standards of public accountability.

What role can auditors play in public sector innovation?

Internal and external auditors scrutinise the use of public resources and hold public sector organisations accountable. However, auditors added-value to public organisations and to the public sector go beyond these critical components of their role. Auditors can also be key actors in the accelerated learning that comes with innovation.

For example, auditors may evaluate and recommend improvements to change management  processes or to help balance risk aversion with effective risk management in the public sector. Internal auditors in particular are well-positioned to support the capacity of their clients to perform and to facilitate organisational learning, which can help to promote successful innovation. In turn, external auditors can play an important role in providing a horizontal and systemic view of how innovation affects outcomes in the present, and foresight on how innovation can translate into better lives in the future.

Public sector innovation requires innovative auditing.  

Auditors too must innovate and adopt new approaches, processes and technology to keep up with the evolving demands of the public sector. Auditors can work, for example, to establish new methods of co-operation and interaction with auditees or other auditors, and in changing and improving the way they deliver and communicate audit reports. Both by incremental and by radical innovations, auditors can help modernise the existing ways of auditing and contribute to efficiencies and raising impact.

These are only a few illustrations of how public sector auditors can support governments and public sector organisations in fostering an innovation-friendly environment to the benefit of society as a whole.