Rather than being the eyes and ears of management in order to provide assurance that systems are working as they are supposed to, Internal Auditors continue to suffer professional abuse in a bid to conceal financial malfeasance by spending officers.
Contrary to the notion that remuneration is at the top of the challenges facing Internal Auditors, professional abuse, according to the Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yao Domelevo, remains foremost on the list.
Professional Abuse is explained by a situation where professional reports issued by Internal Auditors are edited by superior officers before, in the presence of the professional, or pressure brought on the Internal Auditor to make changes to their own reports in order to erase indictable portions.
The situation is said to have affected the independence with which Internal Auditors are expected to discharge their functions to their various institutions.
But the Auditor-General has made a rather unconventional suggestion to these professionally abused officers to play according to the dictates of their superiors and, nonetheless, furnish his office of the abuse with the right evidence.
“If you write a report and you are asked to edit, especially those of you in the public sector, agree to the editing so you are not transferred, but send me a copy of the original.”
He assured that when his office receives such complaints, a team would be dispatched to conduct special audits into the specific transaction.
Domelovo gave the charge to his professional colleagues at the 2018 Annual Internal Audit and Governance Conference of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Ghana, held in Accra on the theme, “Impact of Leadership on Institutional Governance”.
He served notice that from June, 2018, no requests to his office for pre-transaction auditing would be entertained because he is an external auditor and asked leadership of public institutions to develop their internal audit departments to make that significant contribution to public sector financial management.
He warned, “If you don’t develop your Internal Auditors, then pay. When I come, I disallow and surcharge you.”
Domelovo suggested that the power of appointment and transfer of Internal Auditors be vested in the Director-General of the Internal Audit Agency so that spending officers do not have “overarching authority” to manipulate professionals.
President of the IIA, Mrs Juliet Aboagye-Wiafe, emphasised the need for top executives to set the right tone for employees to follow.
She pushed for a better remuneration and protection from harassment of Internal Auditors for doing their work diligently.
“A well-resourced and independent Internal Audit function is a priceless asset for ensuring a positive leadership commitment to effective corporate governance,” Aboagye-Wiafe noted.
By Godfred Tawiah Gogo