Ms. Sumaya Abdulla Al Marzooqi
Head of Institutional Development & International Relations
Supreme Audit Institution of United Arab Emirates

There is no escape from impact of technology on our lives. While it is an enabler for productivity, it is also a truth that losing pace with technological progress can severely impact a profession. Many professions are being radically redefined by technology and new professions are emerging that have their roots firmly in new emerging technologies.

Public sector auditing is no exception to this statement. New technologies like Blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence are on the cusp of transforming the accounting and auditing profession, much like every other sphere of life. A 2019 Global Blockchain survey by accounting firm Deloitte found that a majority 53 percent respondents are of the view that Blockchain is of critical importance for their organization. 83 percent of the respondents consider that there are compelling use cases for Blockchain.

It was this understanding that INTOSAI community established a dedicated Working Group on Impact of Science and Technology on Auditing (WGISTA) at INCOSAI 2019. The working group is chaired by SAI UAE and vice-chaired by SAI USA with 17 members and 5 observers.

WGISTA is an expression of INTOSAI community’s resolve to keep pace with rapid technological advancement. Primarily, WGISTA has been created to ensure SAI community’s timely and appropriate response to these two challenges that disruptive technologies are producing:

  • How to audit governments’ treatment of these developments in their policies, regulations, and other relevant programs
  • How to develop and maintain relevant expertise at SAIs for audit of these developments, at the same time embedding technology at working of SAIs

Within the broad framework of these two challenges, INTOSAI framed the following strategic objectives of WGISTA:

  • Work closely within INTOSAI and with key external stakeholders,
  • Conduct environmental scanning to identify key issues in science and technology that will affect governments and their auditors,
  • Assess and share best practices in auditing governments’ response to developments in science and technology,
  • Assess and share best practices in developing and maintaining expertise within SAIs and applying science and technology in their auditing,
  • Identify competencies required by SAIs and auditors to incorporate rapid developments in science and technology,
  • Strengthen cooperation among SAIs and other relevant entities with a shared interest in this subject matter, and
  • Create a list or database of experts or consultants that can be shared and used by INTOSAI members and Regional Organizations.

WGISTA is the youngest of the working groups of INTOSAI but it has made steady progress since its inception. With membership from almost all INTOSAI regions and mainstream accounting bodies, it is well positioned to provide strategic input and advice to INTOSAI community on impact of emerging technologies on public sector auditing.

Recently we have concluded a survey among our members to understand the strategic direction that our member SAIs are headed with respect to science and technology. We are currently consolidating responses to our survey and hope to share our report in due course of time.

WGISTA has scheduled its virtual inaugural meeting for 16th September 2020. The meeting will discuss the future work plans of WGISTA within the framework of ToRs approved by INTOSAI.

We believe in knowledge sharing and cooperation for development of public sector profession. WGISTA welcomes professional engagement with public sector auditing stakeholders and other relevant professional bodies.

To know more about WGISTA, please visit us at https://wgista.saiuae.gov.ae/