Top questions from citizens
Top Questions From Citizens
- AGO welcomes feedback or complaints including whistle-blowing that relate to loss or potential loss of public funds; for example, on practices that may point to non-compliance with financial and procurement rules, waste and extravagance, and suspected misappropriation or fraud.
How do AGO's roles and responsibilities differ from those of commercial auditing firms?AGO's responsibility goes beyond rendering an opinion on the financial statements. It covers other aspects to enhance accountability to the President and Parliament on the use and management of public funds. These include audits to check for financial irregularities and to ascertain whether there has been excess, extravagance or gross inefficiency leading to waste, and whether measures to prevent them are in place.
How does AGO ensure quality in its audits?
AGO has a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF). This AGO QAF comprises systems, structures, policies and procedures that are designed to provide reasonable assurance that the audits done by AGO meet recognised professional standards.
The AGO QAF comprises the following elements:
Leadership which sets out AGO's vision and mission, enabling legislation, core values, organisation structure and decision-making bodies, and professional standards adopted. It also lays down the AGO Pledge and AGO Code of Conduct and Ethics which AGO auditors must abide by.
Human Capital which sets out the management policies and procedures to attract, retain, motivate and develop a high calibre workforce in order that AGO has staff with the professional qualification, technical competence and capabilities to carry out their work well.
Managing Audits which deals with the application of auditing standards in AGO audits from start to finish, including communicating the results of audit in management letters and reporting summaries of selected audit findings in the annual Report of the Auditor-General to the President and Parliament.
Monitoring and Policy Reviews which are to provide reasonable assurance that AGO is complying with professional standards and its core values. It covers mechanisms such as internal reviews of audits conducted and benchmarking to help ensure quality and continuous improvement throughout the whole organisation.
How does AGO select statutory boards to be audited?AGO considers factors such as materiality of public funds managed by the statutory boards and the number of years the statutory boards have not been audited by AGO.
How is the independence of the Auditor-General preserved?
The Auditor-General is appointed by the President and not by the Government whose accounts are subject to his audit. There are also provisions in the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore to protect his independence.
For example, the Auditor-General can only be removed under specific circumstances and subject to adjudication by an independent panel of judges. This ensures that the Auditor-General is able to audit without fear or favour.
If a statutory board complies with a standard prescribed by law, will AGO deem these financial statements as true and fair?Compliance with legislated financial reporting standards per se does not necessarily result in financial statements that are true and fair. In forming an audit opinion, AGO will also assess the appropriateness of accounting policies adopted by the statutory board and the adequacy of its disclosures so as to determine whether the financial statements do show a true and fair view of its financial position and results. For example, if a statutory board chooses not to disclose certain transactions (even if allowed under the financial reporting standards) and AGO assesses that these non-disclosures had materially affected the financial statements, AGO will issue a modified or a qualified audit report depending on the severity of the non-disclosure. This is consistent with the requirements of the Singapore Standards on Auditing.
What are the qualifications of AGO auditors?Most of the auditors in AGO have accountancy or related degrees. A few have other types of degrees but they would have the background or expertise relevant to their audit work. Most have professional qualifications such as Chartered Accountant (Singapore), Certified Information Systems Auditor and Chartered Financial Analyst.
What legislation governs AGO's duties and responsibilities?
AGO's duties and responsibilities are governed primarily by the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and the Audit Act.
In addition, the Public Sector (Governance) Act provides for the financial statements of most statutory boards to be audited by the Auditor-General or another auditor appointed by the Minister responsible in consultation with the Auditor-General. See here: more details on AGO's audit authority
What types of reports does AGO produce?
AGO produces the following reports:
1. Report of the Auditor-General submitted annually to the President and presented to Parliament;
2. Audit opinion on the published financial statements of Government and statutory boards; and
3. Management letters for each audit giving details of audit observations such as internal control weaknesses, operational inefficiencies and non-compliances with rules and regulations.
These are sent to the auditees and their supervisory bodies.
When AGO auditors ask for information for their audit, can auditees choose not to provide the information requested by AGO?No. Information requested by AGO for audit within its legal mandate must be produced. The law (Audit Act) empowers the Auditor-General to have access to all information he requires for the discharge of his duty. If information requested for an audit is not released to AGO, the non-disclosure of information may be reported in the Auditor-General's report to the President and Parliament. The financial statements of the auditee, if affected, may also be qualified. Where an auditee has concerns on the release of a particular piece of information (e.g. highly classified information), he should explain such concerns in writing to AGO. Where appropriate, arrangements could be made to restrict access to the information to a more senior AGO officer, including the Auditor-General in person if necessary. The procedure for this is embodied in the "Protocol of AGO's Audit" issued to all ministries and statutory boards on commencement of an audit.