Programme of Work of the
External Auditor - Biennium 2000-2001
1. At its 93rd Session the Finance Committee requested that the agenda of
its 94th Session include an item permitting discussion with the External
Auditor of his programme of work for the next biennium and his relative priorities. The
purpose of this document is to prepare for and facilitate such a discussion.
2. The document begins by recalling the texts that define the scope of the External
Auditor's terms of reference and the principles that govern the determination of his
programme of work, and the two major functions entrusted to him. It then lists the
Organization's administrative and management areas that have received the main attention
of French Court of Audit since its first term of appointment (B). It concludes with an
open-ended list of general thematic areas from which the External Auditor might choose to
focus his audit activities for the biennium 2000-2001(C).
II. Functions and scope of activity of the External Auditor
A. PRINCIPLES GOVERNING AUDIT SCOPE AND DETERMINATION OF THE
PROGRAMME OF WORK OF THE EXTERNAL AUDITOR
3. These are laid down in Articles 12.3 to 12.6 of the Financial Regulations which are
- 12.3 The audit shall be conducted in conformity with generally accepted common auditing
standards and, subject to any special directions of the Finance Committee, in accordance
with the Additional Terms of Reference set out in Annex I to these Regulations.
- 12.4 The External Auditor may make observations with respect to the efficiency of the
financial procedures, the accounting system, the internal financial controls and, in
general, the administration and management of the Organization.
- 12.5 The External Auditor shall be completely independent and solely responsible for the
conduct of the audit.
- 12.6 The Finance Committee may request the External Auditor to perform certain specific
examinations and issue separate reports on the results.
4. These provisions indicate that the External Auditor has two major functions.
- The function of auditor
This is carried out in accordance with the provisions set out in above-mentioned article
12.3 of the Financial Regulations and with the principles, standards and objectives stated
in the additional terms of reference governing external audit that are common to the
organizations of the United Nations system and annexed to the Financial Regulations.
The Court of Audit spends some 60% of its time as External Auditor of FAO mainly on the
two visits it makes Headquarters, after issue of the interim accounts for the first year
of the biennium and after issue of the biennium accounts for their certification. For the
biennium 2000-2001, these respective visits will take place in spring 2001 and spring
2002. Audits conducted in countries where the Organization has a regional (or subregional)
office or a permanent representation are also a part of this function.
- The function of management control
Drawing essentially upon the three traditional concepts of economy, efficiency and
efficacy, this function involves investigating a particular area of FAO management or
activity that mobilizes significant resources whose proper use needs to be ensured.
The External Auditor performs this function by selecting, in each biennium, one or two
major areas of control that will be the focus of attention both during visits to
Headquarters, other than those for accounts certification, and during travel to the field
and to the decentralized structures of FAO. This activity accounts for an overall 40% of
the work of the External Auditor.
B. THEMATIC AREAS OF FAO ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
EXAMINED BY THE COURT OF AUDIT SINCE 1994
- Biennium 1994-1995
Examination of travel management (administration of operations, administrative and
accounting procedures, FAO policy);
- Biennium 1996-1997
Replacement of computer-based personnel and financial management systems and purchase of
the Oracle system;
- Biennium 1998-1999: ongoing examination
- Human resources management, development and policy;
- Special Programme for Food Security;
- Management of GI pool accounts.
C. LIST OF THEMATIC AREAS FOR POSSIBLE EXAMINATION BY THE EXTERNAL
AUDITOR AS PART OF HIS CONTROL OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE ORGANIZATION FOR THE BIENNIUM
5. First, it must be noted that the work of evaluating the new budgetary, financial and
accounts software (Oracle, FAS, Atlas, BMM and Datawarehouse), which began at the
beginning of the year, will have to be pursued throughout the biennium.
6. Possible new thematic areas - without excluding others - include:
- Internal controls, more specifically the organization, functioning and effectiveness of
- Methods and procedures for preparing and drawing up the budget of the Organization;
- Coordination between FAO and WFP in field projects and actions.
7. Finally, the External Auditor wishes to mention that he will continue with his field
missions during the course of the biennium, with five or six visits to regional or local
offices per year, the aim being not only to control the administrative and financial
management of the offices and representations concerned but also to audit project delivery
on the basis of both documented and observed evidence. With regard to these missions, he
is pleased to draw attention to the significant training and cooperation effort that has
been undertaken with the attachment of one developing country auditor to each of the teams
of two French auditors that carry out the field visits. A total of ten auditors from seven
different countries have thus been able to participate in our audits of FAO and WFP in
1999 and 2000. This undertaking, which is in accordance with the wishes of the Finance
Committee, will be maintained throughout the present biennium.