President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kudrin, you are, of course, a very experienced person, and we both know this. However, the position you now occupy is something new for you. Six months have passed since your appointment, haven’t they?
Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin: Yes.
Mr President, we have summed up the results for the Accounts Chamber’s work. Over the past year and under my chairmanship, the Accounts Chamber Board held 42 meetings and reviewed 272 initiatives by supervisory agencies, including control activities, as well as expert and analytics reviews.
Expert and analytical reviews usually focus on system-wide problems that we study across the country, such as the use of land resources or the operation of magistrates’ courts. This can also include, for example, the use of the 112 System in emergencies or SMEs promotion. In all these cases we carry out comprehensive nationwide reviews.
Vladimir Putin: Do you want to say that instead of just looking at spending figures, you review the matter in question in its entirety?
Alexei Kudrin: We look at how the entire system works and whether it is efficient. It is for this reason that we have increased the number of inspections of this kind in keeping with the Law on the Accounts Chamber. The Accounts Chamber’s mission is to assess the performance of strategic goals and under strategic documents. We now pay more attention to these matters.
The innovative methods as well as approaches practiced by the Accounts Chamber include strategic audit techniques which is a global trend, and most audit chambers around the world are increasing the share of strategic audit in their inspections, thereby working for the state and explaining what works and what does not in achieving strategic goals.
In this regard, already in 2019 we will more strictly monitor the implementation of national tasks and national projects as a control authority that is independent from the executive branch, often working together when discussing the reasons for failure to fulfil or, conversely, best practices. In this sense, we are partially conducting such a restructuring.
In addition, we are increasing the share of digital data analysis methods that would allow us to do off-site analyses of a wider range of events. Of course, data in our country is still maintained very poorly. We need to improve the quality of databases and their compatibility. In this sense, we also identified the risk-based approach as one of our spheres of focus. We are looking for places where the risk of theft and the risk of non-fulfilment of strategic goals is the greatest.
During my chairmanship, 170 representations were sent to the ministries, departments and heads of institutions, 15 orders (in cases where the initial representations were not acted upon), and 220 information letters. In addition, 23 materials were sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office, 8 to the Federal Security Service, and 4 to the Investigative Committee, which are also being worked on. As a rule, the materials are confirmed and follow-up actions continue.
In this connection, as I have already said, today we enhance the quality of our work being guided by new approaches of strategic audit and improving the quality of the financial audit too.
There is one more event of interest to the Accounts Chamber next year.
Vladimir Putin: Next year or this year?
Alexei Kudrin: In the year 2019.
In September, Russia will host INCOSAI XXIII, a triennial congress of supreme audit institutions. The International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) is an umbrella organisation of the global audit community. With 194 countries as its members, it is the second largest organisation after the UN. The member states are represented at a high level, usually by former ministers and deputy prime ministers. They are usually regarded as independent professionals in charge of supreme government auditing in their countries. Therefore, it will be a very representative congress, during which some 850 delegates will discuss the organisations’ performance over a period of the past three years.
Russia will be the chair of INTOSAI for the next three years. This is why we are drafting a declaration of the congress together with working groups from many countries. Such declarations usually stipulate the implementation or the promotion of new modern approaches to auditing. Part of the approaches in our declaration will have to do with the development of strategy-related auditing as well as digital methods.
Two main reports will be delivered at the congress. Russia will report on the analysis of achieving national goals and the analysis methods, the so-called strategy-related auditing. Another report will be made by China and will deal with the development of digital technology in auditing. Both Russia and China are cooperating with working groups, which usually include up to 20 countries. The drafts of these reports are now being discussed in the international audit community. In other words, Russia will become the central venue for government auditing this year.
Vladimir Putin: Very good.
Mr Kudrin, you have mentioned strategy-related auditing. I believe that as a former government member who prepared documents that are comparable to the current national projects, and also in your current capacity, you are in a position to gauge the efficiency of the state in attaining its goals. I hope that with you as its head, the Accounts Chamber will operate in this spirit and will provide considerable assistance to the implementation of our national projects.
Alexei Kudrin: This is exactly what we intend to do.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.