“Audit Reports Not Taboo”- Morlu Challenges Auditor General Gaye
Monrovia – Last week, the Auditor General of the Kenya National Audit Office, Edward Ouko accompanied by Liberia’s Auditor General Yusador Gaye submitted an audit report conducted by the Kenya Audit Office on the General Auditing Commission of Liberia to the National Legislature.
In presenting the report, Auditor General Ouko said during some of the years audited the GAC did not have in place proper accounting system, trial balance, ledger and other financial documents.
But former Auditor General John S. Morlu, II who served some of the years accordingly audited by the Kenya Audit Office has written the current Auditor General Gaye, requesting a copy of the audit conducted by the Kenya Audit Office.
In a letter dated April 29, former AG Morlu stated “I know that any mention of GAC hundred years from now, would still mention me and my staff, since we built that great institution from the dust and firth of oblivion, dysfunction and paralysis to a household name of public sector accountability. I am duly honored that Liberians have continued to see the GAC through the prism of the work we did while I served as Auditor General”.
The former AG stated “That said, I am writing to request from you a copy of the said audit report and also request that the entire report be published. It does not matter whether it is draft form or final report”.
The former AG also indicated in the letter that he is requesting copies of all audits conducted of the GAC affecting his tenure.
“In the same vein, I am requesting also that your office send me copies of all other previous audits conducted of the GAC that affects anytime during my tenure. There were public reports that former AG Robert Kilby commissioned an audit of my tenure to be done by Parker & Associates, yet again, it was just in the media and no published reports and no copy was provided for me even after repeated requests”, stated Morlu.
Professional issues Raised
The former AG, who during his tenure as Auditor General, was applauded for his level of work declared that as matter of professional audit ethics, a draft copy of any report conducted during his period should have been sent to him.
“Professionally, since a part of my period was included and lumped into the subsequent periods after my departure, it would be the fair and right thing for you to have sent a draft copy for my review and comment.
This is required and accepted auditing standard, whether AICPA, PCAOB, or INTOSAI Standards. That is however, a moot point since it was not done, and you will not get a complaint from me at all because I believe that in the end the public discussion about the GAC will reignite the issues of public sector accountability and transparency.
It is a minor inconvenience for me personally but the larger society interest is served and promoted by the discussion of fiscal probity and public sector accountability and transparency, especially in regard to the watchdog of Government.
2050 Old Bridge Road, Suite 103, Lake Ridge, VA 22192 T: 703-594-4494; F: 703-594-4496 www.jsmorlu.com”, the letter continued.
Audit reports not Taboo
Morlu whose tenure at the GAC saw the regular publication of audit reports that led to open public debates on audit reports told the current AG in the letter that audit reports are not taboo and should be made public.
Stated Morlu: “I have said time and time again that audit reports are not taboo; they are public documents to be made available immediately to the Liberian people when they are completed.”
“And I have also said, like Thomas Jefferson, that I wish to live enough to see a day when all financial and related transactions of the government of Liberia are published each day for the Liberian people to see”.
According to him, it will be prudent for the Auditor General Gaye to make the audit report public to give Liberians a chance to see what transpired at the GAC.
“I am a strong believer in public sector transparency and accountability and this is why I want you to immediately publish the entire audit so as to give Liberians a chance to see what transpired at the GAC and also for me to have an opportunity to respond for the sake of the men and women of integrity who worked with me at the GAC and for the millions of Liberians who have come to believe in what we did for Liberia at the GAC. As a public servant, I am accountable to each and every Liberian and I owe each Liberian an explanation and presentation of nothing but the facts and truths”, former AG Morlu noted.
He reminded Auditor General Gaye that as the main proponent and one of the main architects of the Public Financial Management Act (2009), he ensured that Auditor Generals will never again hide audit report from the people of Liberia.
“So I fought and succeeded in putting in the law the timely publication of audit reports. Section 37 (6) of the PFM Act reads: “The Auditor General shall publish the audit report in the Official Gazette and make it available to the Legislature and the public within one month of the completion of said audit report. This is the law of Liberia”, Morlu stated.
Morlu promised to pay the cost of transfer of the audit report to him for review and challenging that it is a legal and professional obligation on the part of the current Auditor General to make the report public.
“You can email me [email protected] a copy of the audit report and also all other audits conducted of the GAC that affects my tenure, whether draft or final. I am also willing and prepared to pay the full cost for DHL or FedEx so that I can get a copy of the audit report by KNAO”, Morlu expressed.
“Madam Auditor General, I also request that you publish the KNAO audit of the GAC and all other audits conducted of the GAC to date. This is a legal and professional obligation.”
Morlu served the GAC from 2006 to 2011 and during this period the GAC was highly recognized amongst Supreme Audit Institutions in Africa as one of the best performers. Audit reports were also published regularly which increased public participation into discussions on audit reports.
During Morlu’s era, Liberia’s ranking in terms of transparency and accountability increased but his successors have failed to live up to the standard set by Morlu, a situation which has reduced public confidence in the work of the GAC. One of Morlu successors, Robert Kilby was dismissed by President for Conflict of Interest.