What Makes a Good (Chinese) Auditor

Normally we reserve the pages of the Report of the Week for tomes on control environment best practice and misadventure.

This week we wanted to explore a very interesting speech given on Christmas Day 2014 by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

His speech is reported on the Chinese National Audit Office website and it makes for fascinating reading.

Li noted:

Government audit plays important roles in assuring the implementation of major policies involving reform and development, safeguarding financial discipline, and promoting integrity.

Alas the role of the Chinese government auditor also appears to have a punitive aspect for Li pointed out:

Significant issues were discovered, punished and rectified

Li set out criteria by which he judges what makes a good auditor:

First, government auditors shall keep the overall situation and responsibility in mind, adapt to the New Normal of economy development, and act as the “inspector” of policy implementation to contribute to the sound and continuous development of national economy within the reasonable range.
Interestingly he specifically mentioned the need for real time auditing:
They shall play the special role in promoting the steady economic growth, adjusting the economic structure and reforming to a deeper level, through enhancing real-time audit on significant constructions and projects, improving audit supervision measures on key links, and promoting the implementation of policies on reform and development and significant projects.
His second criteria is universal:
Second, auditor shall keep close eyes on the use of public funds as the guardian of interests of public.
Of particular note was the observation that this public guardian role is not only focused on fraud:
Auditing shall neither allow the public funds “sleeping” in the bank account, nor any drainage or misappropriation. 
He also gave the stamp to the integral role that auditors play in preventing corruption:
Auditors shall utilize their penetrating insight to detect and discover the server illegal or disciplinary violations and the major risks, to give full play of the role of pioneer of audit in anti-corruption.
The Premier’s third criteria was that:
Audit institutions shall foster the establishment of “Competent Auditors” with high qualification, competence, integrity, ethics, and courage. Audit supervision shall be conducted according to law, within reasonable authorities and in order. And social resources can be more involved to enhance the public confidence in auditing.
The summary finished by noting:
Premier Li emphasized, facing new assignments and requirements, audit institutions should enhance capacity building and innovation, get rid of outdated working patterns, utilize innovated auditing ways and methods, and improve audit efficiency with the use of modern technology such as IT, big data. Audit work is very laborious, the auditors need more care and assistance, especially the grassroots auditors.
And most brilliantly he found a new way to describe the role of an auditor – as a sword:
Audit authorities shall play the important roles in economy development and anti-corruption like swords.
This is an interesting and short read and well worth the time if you are keen to understand how audit is perceived in different cultures and by the highest echelons of power.
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