Because of digital changes, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit have standardized the process of locating information and documents held by public bodies and their submission for state audit, while safeguarding the rights of those being audited.
The procedure was formulated in a logical manner to allow access to all the information necessary in the performance of an effective and first-rate audit, while at the same time safeguarding the rights and privacy of civil servants.
The cooperation between the bodies systematized the process of state-of-the-art audit that can accommodate technological changes and challenges stemming from these.
The procedure standardizes aspects of audits vis-à-vis information systems and their robustness (IT audit)
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman: “I believe it is important to strengthen and formalize the auditor–entity being audited relationship. Digital changes have made it necessary for us to update audit work procedures and systematize our work with audited bodies, which, on the one hand, ensures integration of advanced audit tools and access to all databases and relevant audit materials, and on the other hand, facilitates the audit process in a constructive and respectful way, while upholding professional ethics in the interfaces between the audited bodies and individual rights. I thank the attorney general for his cooperation and the professional team of the Office of the State Comptroller for formulating the procedures.”
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit: “The existence of efficient and progressive state audit is an important guarantee of the existence of proper and effective governance, continually striving to improve the service given to citizens. I commend the completion of the work to elucidate the many legal issues regarding interpretation of the law and its implementation in the complex context of audit material stored on digital media. And all accomplished in a way that ensures effective audit while safeguarding the rights of civil servants.”
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit commended the joint procedure that was signed this week, and that is intended to systematize the process of locating the information and documents in the information systems of the audited bodies, with the emphasis on computerized information systems. In the computer age, the core information pertaining to local authorities resides in computerized databases and not in archives and hardcopy documents, as in the past. This reality represents a complex challenge for audit teams of the Office of the State Comptroller, given that the ability of the audit teams to produce professional audit reports, which are valid and contribute to the work of the audited bodies, is contingent on having access to information stored in computerized systems.
The new procedure is intended to ensure that all the relevant data will be available to the audit teams of the Office of the State Comptroller in their mission to produce the report that will be made public. Signing the procedure reflects the striving to perform effective, independent and nonpartisan audit, professionally, in an orderly and respectful way and with the aspiration to provide tangible added value to the work of the local authorities in Israel. The procedure will allow the Office of the State Comptroller to fulfil its role in the computer age in line with the authority given it by law and through the use of advanced audit tools.
Nonetheless, the procedure emphasizes that during audit work, the state comptroller must use his authority with restraint, reasonableness and in proportion, and be on guard not to infringe on the individual rights of the employees of audited bodies.
The main principles of the systemization:
The audit will be done in coordination with the head of the audited body, so that the audited body will be able to organize the information in line with the needs of the audit and the instructions of the Office of the State Comptroller.
The process of locating the information will be done by the audited body according to the instructions of an employee of the Office of the State Comptroller and in line with his professional judgment.
Special attention is given to protecting the personal information of each employee, which must be kept separate from the professional audit material, which is handed over for examination by the state comptroller. Hence, for example, emphasis is put on situations where there are large databases as well as audit material that is stored as part of the governmental email.
It must be made clear that in the framework of the important audit work required today – auditing of information systems and their robustness, including the field of cyber and IT – care must be taken not to damage original files and the systems themselves.
The procedure even systematizes the mechanism for settling disagreements by holding open discussions and cooperation between the institution of the Office of the State Comptroller and audited bodies.
Eighteen months after the procedure enters into effect, the manner of its implementation will be examined in order to draw conclusions and continue improving the audit work and collaboration necessary on the part of government ministries.