South Sudan – NAC Strategic Change Project 2020-24
IDI, the Office of the Auditor General of Kenya and AFROSAI-E jointly support the National Audit Chamber (NAC), the SAI of South Sudan, in implementing key strategic priorities for 2020-2024. This includes support to ongoing audits by NAC, a new legal framework, stronger internal governance, new ict-systems, HR-management, professional development and training, stakeholder engagement and communication and general coordination with partners. Funding is provided by the Norwegian embassy (MFA Norway) in Juba. SAI Norway provide in-kind resource persons.
South Sudan is currently in a deep economic, political, security and humanitarian crisis. The Revitalized Peace Agreement (R-ARCSS) of September 2018 provides for a number of steps to be taken to improve the situation, hereunder how to strengthen public financial management and the National Audit Chamber (NAC). The NAC is a key oversight institution and has a crucial role in promoting better governance in South Sudan through various audits of public funds and institutions.
NAC has developed a Strategic Plan (SP) for 2019-2024 that clearly aims to meet the obligations of the R-ARCSS and for it to generally contribute to better public financial management through relevant and high-quality audits. This includes expanding the audit coverage of both Central Government as well as parastatals, the states and local government.
NAC, AFROSAI-E and IDI has had a bilateral cooperation since 2017, where peers from SAI Kenya, Norway and Uganda have played an important role in addition to IDI and AFROSAI-E staff (see key documents and evaluation here). There has been a good cooperative spirit and reasonable progress in the challenging situation 2017-2019. On this background, the parties agreed to enter a second phase of the Peer-support project – the “NAC Strategic Change project 2020-2024”. This was formalized in a Cooperation agreement signed in August 2019.
What are the project objectives and expected results?
The overall objective of the project is to enable NAC to successfully implement its strategic plan. The result framework is therefore based on NAC’s Strategic Plan 2019-2024. See below for an overview of the Strategic Plan.
In line with NAC’s mission, the potential impact of the project is greater compliance with laws and regulations and stronger public financial management in South Sudan, which ultimately leads to better government services and improvements of the living conditions of citizens. The project shall as such contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) especially, by building a more effective, accountable and inclusive Supreme Audit Institution in South Sudan.
What are the main project activities?
The overall implementation strategy is to align and organize the project in alignment with NAC’s own strategic plans and priorities. This means the project components are NAC’s own strategic outputs and focus areas, supplemented by a project management component:
- NAC Strategic outputs (including audit reports)
- Strengthen NAC Independence
- Enhance the Quality and Impact of Audit services
- Strengthen Internal Governance System and Structures
- Human Resources developed and Staff Welfare improved
- Strengthen Advocacy and Stakeholders Engagement
- Project management and coordination of other partners and projects
Component 1: NAC Strategic outputs
On-the-job support to NAC’s work to achieve the strategic outputs will have a high priority as these are core operations of NAC and where value and benefits to the society can directly be realized. Support will depend on specific audit assignments prioritized by NAC each year. The audits listed in the R-ARCSS have a high priority for support. Backlog audits will be done if financial statements are available.
Component 2: Strengthen NAC Independence
Building the independence is critical for the long-term performance of NAC. A peer team will seek to give advice to drafts of legislation and regulations, as well as stakeholder presentations. This will be sought aligned with the work already done by the SAI and in cooperation with UNMISS. Support is planned as a part of IDI’s SAI Independence programme.
Component 3: Enhance the Quality and Impact of Audit services
The key objective in this area is implementation of the Financial and Compliance audit manuals, enabling greater audit coverage and quality. Training material of AFROSAI-E will be used and customized. Most of the support will be on-the-job training of actual audits, especially for clearing the audit backlog and technical challenging audits. Advice to management’s quality control will be prioritized, as well as annual audit planning and roll-out of electronic audit processes. Support to quality and impact of audit services is assumed as a relevant area of peer support, as peers are already engaged in advising the NAC in roll-out of new audit manuals.
Component 4: Strengthen Internal Governance System and Structures
The area of strategic management and internal governance is assumed to be fundamental for NAC to succeed in implementing the strategic plan. Strategic Management for SAIs involves policies, strategies and techniques intended to direct SAI top management and staff’s attention and behavior towards the continuous and holistic improvement of SAI performance in line with strategic outcomes and outputs. It does so by also explicitly factoring in the broader governance and political economy environment in which the SAI operates and the expectations of the key SAI stakeholders.
Support in this area includes a training programme and professional advice for the SAI leadership team to establish systems and practices for implementation of the strategic and operational plans, and good coordination with partners.
ICT is by NAC treated as an integrated part of internal governance. Support to revise ICT-strategies and assist in proper management of ICT-projects, including prioritizing needs, procurements, training and implementation is prioritized. ICT-investments require proper ICT-management. As staff in the ICT-area is difficult to recruit in Juba, a special salary contribution is budgeted for to enable NAC to recruit a person for this. It is assumed that government funds will over time be able to cover the costs.
As NAC wants to strengthen its own financial management, support to external audit of NAC and strengthening the financial management system and routines is also included.
Component 5: Human Resources developed and Staff Welfare improved
Support in the HR area is about:
- Use of regional resources for HR-management, such as competency framework, HR-policies, recruitment practices developed by AFROSAI-E
- Develop and implement professional development programme. This may be linked to the African professionalization initiative in AFROSAI-E or the IDI professionalization programme.
- Coordinated, systematic and selective training of staff. This will be delivered by replicating some of SAI Kenya’s ongoing trainings in Juba.
NAC has in its new HR-policy actions to raise gender and support to this will be done as a part of support to focus area 4. Gender and equal rights will also be sought integrated in both audits and internal governance support.
Component 6: Strengthen Advocacy and Stakeholders Engagement
NAC has a develop stakeholder engagement strategy which forms the core for the support in this area. Peer-support will use of the existing resources for stakeholder engagement, customized to the national context. Financial support will be provided to assist NAC in actively engaging stakeholders for a specific purpose, such as new legal framework. Advice for press conferences and release of audit reports will also be done.
How is the project managed?
The project is a partnership of NAC, IDI, OAGK and AFROSAI-E. NAC is to be in the driving seat in the implementation of activities and lead the Steering Committee.
The IDI is the lead peer partner and responsible for project funds and coordination of all support providers.
OAG Kenya and AFROSAI-E are key providers of technical support. Other partners (strong regional SAIs) will also be included in the project, especially as providers of resource persons.
A Steering Committee is established where each of the partners are represented. It shall approve the annual project report and project plans, and meet at least annually.
Both a mid-term and end-term review of the strategic plan is planned. An external evaluation of the project will be carried out in conjunction with the mid-term review in 2022, and a larger evaluation at the end of the strategic planning period (in 2024).