When performing the public audit function, Registered Government Auditors (RGA’s) have to adhere to certain minimum professional standards. These are contained in the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS) and a Code of Ethics for Auditors in the Public Sector.

Against the background of South Africa’s membership of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), the Southern African Institute of Government Auditors endorses the development work and the resulting publications of this international standard setting body for its members.

Development of the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards and related topics such as the Code of Ethics are based on the Lima Declaration of Guidelines on Auditing Precepts which was adopted by acclamation of the INTOSAI delegates more than two decades ago in October 1977 at the IX INCOSAI in Lima (Peru).

The experiences made with the Lima Declaration since that time have exceeded even the highest expectations and proven how decisively they influence the development of government auditing in the given context of each individual country. The Lima Declaration is equally significant for all Supreme Audit Institutions grouped in INTOSAI, no matter to what region they belong, what development they have undergone, how they are integrated into the system of government or how they are organized.

The success of the declaration is above all due to the fact that it contains a comprehensive list of all goals and issues relating to government auditing, while simultaneously remaining remarkably significant and concise, making it easy to use, with its clear language ensuring that focus does not wander away from the main elements.

The chief aim of the Lima Declaration is to call for independent government auditing. A Supreme Audit Institution which cannot live up to this demand does not come up to standard. It is not surprising, therefore, that the issue of the independence of Supreme Audit Institutions continues to be a theme repeatedly discussed within the INTOSAI community. However, the demands of the Lima Declaration are not satisfied by a SAI just achieving independence; this independence is also required to be anchored in the legislation. For this, however, well-functioning institutions of legal security must exist, and these are only to be found in a democracy based on the rule of law.

Rule of law and democracy are, therefore, essential premises for really independent government auditing and are the pillars on which the Declaration of Lima is founded. The precepts contained in the Declaration are timeless and essential values which have maintained their topicality since the years they were first adopted. The fact that it has been decided to re-publish the Declaration more than 20 years later indeed witnesses the quality and farsighted spirit of their authors.

The Lima Declaration, INTOSAI Auditing Standards as well as INTOSAI’s Code of Ethics for Auditors in the Public Sector form part of the Common Body of Knowledge and Skills for Registered Government Auditors. They are examined in the professional Qualifying Examination for Registered Government Auditors.

INTOSAI has developed these standards to provide a framework for the establishment of procedures and practices to be followed in the conduct of an audit, including audits of computer-based systems. They should be viewed in the particular constitutional, legal and other circumstances of the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI). In South Africa this refers to the Office of the Auditor-General.

The general framework of the auditing standards for the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) has been deduced from the Lima and Tokyo Declarations, the statements and reports adopted by INTOSAI in various congresses, and the report of the United Nations Expert Group Meeting in Public Accounting and Auditing in Developing Countries.

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