No Secrecy in Accountability – Public Deserves to Know About GAC Report
THE GENERAL AUDITING Commission of Liberia is the supreme audit institution with constitutional backing established by a provision of the Liberian constitution.
AMONGST OTHERS THE GAC is the institution responsible to drive the transparency and accountability process of the country, ensuing probity in the use of state resources.
NOT MUCH PUBLIC ATTENTION was given the institution until the regime of President Ellen Johnson came to power in 2006 during which time the institution was restructured.
UNLIKE TIME PAST, the Executive Law of 1972 called for the GAC to report directly to the National Legislature in order to give the entity some level of independence even though the head of the entity is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Liberian Senate just like other officials of the Executive Branch of Government.
FROM 2006 THE GAC gained both local and international reputation when European Union recruited Auditor General John Morlu, II took the institution from a dysfunctional state to a place highly regarded as one of the best performing audit institutions in Africa.
AUDIT REPORTS WERE NEVER treated like the past when only a few people had access to audit reports, making the reports look like a special document that should not be consumed by the public.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN discussions regarding audit reports increased to the extent that in towns and villages around Liberia, people could now discuss audit reports.
AS IT IS ONE OF THE BEST ways of fighting crimes, public condemnations of individuals implicated in audit reports over allegations of breach of public trust could not find anywhere to hide in the country as radio talk shows, newspapers pages and intellectual centers all discussed audit reports.
NAMING AND SHAMING ALLEGED corrupt officials became the order of the day in Liberia, something that helped Liberia in its fight against the menace which upon election President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared as public enemy number one.
THE GAC BECAME A GOOD example that other African countries wanted to replicate what was done in the country at the time, publishing audit reports and getting the general public to have a say.
FROM 2006 TO 2011 LIBERIA’S ranking in the fight against corruption improved significantly, thanks to the level of exposure of acts of corruption by the GAC through audit reports, even though recommendations from these audit reports were not implemented.
JOHN MORLU WHO LED the way in rebuilding the GAC eventually left the scene and other individuals were appointed to head the GAC to continue the work of ensuing transparency and accountability in the country.
THE GAC ALTHOUGH MIGHT not be performing at the same level in time past but the past image of the institution continues to keep the entity on good track within the Liberian public and even beyond.
AFTER CONDUCTING AUDITS for several years, it was reported recently that GAC was itself audited by another supreme audit institution, the Kenya National Audit Office (KENAO).
IN SUBMITTING THE AUDIT report accordingly conducted on the GAC to the National Legislature, Kenya’s Auditor General Edward Ouko said during some of the periods audited the GAC did not have proper accounting system in place and there were no financial documents such as general ledger, trial balance and others.
AFTER SUBMITTING HIS report to the Legislature, former Auditor General Morlu, whose tenure was also audited expressed that he is yet to see a copy of the said report and further said he was never contacted or had the opportunity to get a draft audit report for review.
AS A REQUIREMENT IN PROFESSIONAL auditing, auditees are given the opportunity to respond to findings of auditors and the views of the auditees incorporated in the audit report to strike balance.
MORLU IN A LONG LETTER dated April 29 addressed to current Auditor General Yusador Gaye requested copy of the audit report and challenged the Auditor General to make the report public.
AUDITOR GENERAL GAYE in a bulletin on the GAC board declared that the submission to the National Legislature is a final audit report conducted by the Kenya Audit office.
THE AUDITOR GENERAL expression to GAC staffs that the audit report is final draws attention on the integrity of the report especially when some of the individuals that served in positions at the GAC were never contacted during the course of the audit which is a major breach of professional ethics.
BESIDES THE ETHICAL ISSUES beclouding the Kenya Audit service report, the manner and form in which the Liberian public is now struggling to get a copy of the report raises more questions on the credibility of the audit report.
THE PUBLIC DESERVES TO KNOW the inner workings of the watchdog and such report should not be kept away from the public as there is no secrecy in accountability.
IN SEVERAL GAC AUDIT REPORTS, individuals are held responsible for violating laws, rules and regulations and as such the current Auditor General should not be the one violating provisions of the Public Financial management Act, which provides for the publication of audit reports.
ONE WHO PREACHES EQUITY must come with clean hands and therefore the GAC which has been preaching equity over the years must now come clean and make audit report conducted on the commission public.
THERE IS NO SECRECY IN accountability and this is a big challenge to the GAC to ensure that report conducted on the institution is quickly made public.