One of the Commission on Audit’s (COA) international partners in its performance audit initiatives, the United States Government Accountability Office (US GAO) Center for Audit Excellence (CAE), marked its five-year anniversary on 30 September 2020. Since its establishment, the CAE has made significant contributions in improving audit capacity and promoting good governance in the US and in the international audit community.

The US GAO-CAE and COA, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is working together on the Philippine Performance Audit Partnership (PPAP) Project through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the three parties. Under the agreement, the US GAO-CAE will provide technical assistance to COA to further institutionalize its performance audit capacity in evaluating high-value government programs to ensure that they are efficient, economical and achieve their objectives.

A Year 1 Work Plan for the PPAP project was already developed and the US GAO CAE team conducted a Basic Performance Audit Course attended by 27 participants from the different audit sectors and COA Offices in 2019.

“We congratulate the US GAO Center for Audit Excellence on its fifth anniversary, recognizing the Center’s valuable assistance in helping us create more positive audit impact through our performance audit initiatives. We hope that our partnership with CAE strengthens the momentum towards sustainability and institutionalization of performance auditing in the Commission,” said COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo.

Aside from Supreme Audit Institutions, the US GAO-CAE provides tailored training classes and technical assistance to accountability organizations such as federal Inspectors General and state and local auditors. The CAE is under the US GAO’s Strategic Planning and External Liaison Office. The Center is led by Janet St. Laurent (Director) and John Hutton (Deputy Director).

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The Commission on Audit (COA) is kicking off its advance towards the Fifth Industrial Revolution through the recent launch of a project that aimed to leverage technology in the conduct of its audits. Project MIKA-EL or Machine Intelligence, Knowledge-based Audit, and Experience Learning is an envisioned artificial intelligence (AI) that will work as an audit assistant, going through volumes of government records and helping auditors sort and process available digital data for faster and more efficient examination and audit.

COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo said the project’s focus is on maximizing the use of technology for audits. “With MIKA-EL, we intend to leverage technology in government audits. Technology is now so advanced that we can do everything with the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger. We are exploring the use of electronic evidence, continuous auditing techniques, advanced data analytics, and even artificial intelligence in the early detection of anomalous transactions,” he said.

“Using information technologies, Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) Philippines will be an efficient enabling partner for the development of public administration, and the role of big data in the activity of this SAI will make a difference,” the Chairperson added.

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"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." - Harriet Tubman

COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc, the 2020 St. Paul Signum Meriti awardee, inspired the graduating students with quotes such as this during his keynote address to the virtual 68th Commencement Exercises of the Saint Paul School of Professional Studies (SPSPS) of Palo, Leyte for their Graduating Class of March 2020 that was held on 26 August 2020 through Facebook Live. In Academic Year 2018-2019, the school produced 16 topnotchers in various licensure and certification examinations. Six of the 16 were first placers.

Commissioner Pondoc was presented the Signum Meriti award for his exemplary achievements as a highly respected Commissioner, legal luminaire, a student-professor, and a top-notch certified public accountant (CPA). This award is the highest institutional citation of honor conferred by SPSPS to any individual who has excelled in their chosen career or has made outstanding meritorious acts worthy of recognition and has contributed to the betterment of our country and Filipino people.

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The Commission on Audit (COA) held a series of webinars across its various regional offices to discuss the Commission’s role in the Philippine Government’s response to COVID-19 in the emergency and post-emergency phases.

Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc was the sole resource speaker on all webinars hosted by the different COA regional offices. He emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health emergency, with associated significant economic impact, affecting all developing and developed countries. The presentation was based on the Accountability and Oversight Institutions Community of Practice in the World Bank Group which he tailor-fitted for the Commission.

“The Commission on Audit needs to retain a comprehensive mandate covering all public funds and resources mobilized in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” Commissioner Pondoc strongly urged.

The regional offices that played host to the webinar were: COA Regional Office No. I on 10 July, attended by 100 participants; COA BARMM on 14 July (196); COA Regional Office No. XII on 15 July (219); COA Regional Office No. XI on 17 July (278); COA Regional Office No. XIII also on 17 July (292); COA Regional Office No. X on 21 July 2020 (300)COA Regional Office No. V on 24 July (341); COA Regional Office No. VIII also on 24 July (321); COA Regional Office No. III on 29 July (323); COA Regional Office No. VII on 4 August (317); COA Regional Office No. VI on 5 August (276); COA Regional Office No. II on 6 August (109); and COA NIS Regional Satellite Audit Office on 10 August 2020. The first webinar was hosted by COA Regional Office No. IX on 9 July with 344 COA personnel in attendance.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought heightened uncertainty over the economy, employment, finances, relationships, physical and mental health. During these difficult times, accountants across the country took up the challenge of continuing to be the guardians of our economy amidst the "new normal," and RISING up in solidarity to participate and update their accounting knowledge and skills during the first ever virtual 2020 Accountancy Week Celebration (AWC) that was held from 12 to 18 July 2020.

This year's theme, “Filipino CPAs RISING in Solidarity Amidst Challenging Times," focuses on solidarity within the profession as the impact of the pandemic greatly affects not only the accounting practice but also other professions as well as the economy of the country.

During the virtual opening program of the AWC, Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc said that the week-long event highlights the value and contribution of Filipino CPAs in nation-building. He said the activities set for the week aims to show support of solidarity to the continuing commitment of the accounting professionals in both government and private sectors to be more relevant during the changing and challenging times. The Commissioner said that CPAs should attend the programs and webinars scheduled for the AWC to be updated and informed of what will be the proper approaches to face the challenges that the new normal brings to the accountancy profession.

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