AFROSAI-E Prepares Staff for an Autonomous Audit Office
Following the promulgation for the Audit Act 2016, which provides for the independence/autonomy of the Office of the Auditor- General (OAG), the office held a general staff meeting on the 12th December,2017 in Maseru. The purpose of the meeting was to continue OAG management’s efforts to prepare staff for the transition into an autonomous office as provided for in the Audit Act 2016.The experts from the African Organisation for English-speaking Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSAI-E) where OAG is a member facilitated the meeting.
In her opening remarks, the Auditor-General, Mrs. Lucy Liphafa stated that 2017 was a year of great change in the office as a result of the new Audit Act. This change brought about mixed feelings ranging from fear, loss and uncertainty to excitement and anticipation. In allaying staff fears and giving them hope, AG indicated that change is necessary and always bound to happen.
For OAG, change had to happen because the office has a mandate to fulfil and management could not turn a blind eye to the developments emerging within its environment, as that could impact negatively on the work of the office. She indicated that OAG melted its iceberg by pushing for the enactment of the Audit Act 2016 to address deficiencies in the Audit Act 1973, which impeded the office from performing to the required standard.
She encouraged all to embrace change and partake in the roadmap developed with inputs from management for the TRIP to autonomy to ensure that office realises its vision. She urged the staff to realise that all have a choice to make on whether to join the new OAG or to remain in the civil service, and that preparation were underway to provide the necessary information for staff to make informed decisions.
Deliberating on the issue of embracing change, the AFROSAI-E facilitators Ms Annerie Pretorius and Ms Marianna Van Schalk Vyk presented a change management scenario to staff and took them through a 7-step change management process.
This was aimed at making staff realise that change is part of life and when it happens people go through various emotions, but it was important to engage on a change management process to bring everyone on board. Staff was urged to realise that change for OAG meant growth, relevance and meeting stakeholders needs, thus bringing about visible change in the lives of the citizens.
The facilitators further highlighted the importance of anticipating challenges, as they were inherent in a change environment. Sharing experiences on a SAI that went through a similar change process, the facilitators sited placement of staff as one of the biggest challenges this particular SAI encountered.
There were staff that did not qualify for positions, hence some had to retire or join other offices. OAG was therefore encouraged to consider AFROSAI-E Competency Framework to identify the skill gaps and provide an accelerated training programme or a study loan scheme to encourage staff to obtain the necessary qualifications. This would ensure competent staff and create a professional institution trusted by stakeholders.
The Chief Executive Officer of AFROSAI-E, Mr. Wessel Pretorius said that change in any organisation was not an easy step and encouraged open communication and advised the office create the staff representative committee which would take staff concerns to the management.
In conclusion, the Deputy Auditor General, Mrs Monica Besetsa commended all for active participation highlighting that she observed community, respect and cohesion.
“As you might have observed we do not have all the answers, but at least we are in this together and we have a vision we can aspire to as a team,” said the DAG. She concluded that change was inevitable for all.
The Office of the Auditor General was established in April, 1963 with the aim of promoting public accountability and transparency by providing professional auditing services to clients and stakeholders.