Maybe This is a Stupid Question, But, Who Audits the State Finances?

consultant

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Joan Burton was challenging FF during the week to allow the opposition access to State financial data if the government wished to seek an agreed 4-year budgetary strategy. She claimed this was normal practice in other countries.

I also remember newly-elected governments in the past claiming that their pre-election promises and policies were rendered impossible because the State finances were far worse than their predecessors had claimed.

This begs the question.

Who, if anyone, audits and verifies the State finances? Does the IMF? The EU? KPMG (God forbid)?

How do we know that the information we are given is correct? Or do we just have to take the word of any government currently in power?

As I stated in the title, this may be a stupid question. Maybe there is a mechanism. I just don't know what it is if it does exist.
 


Cassandra Syndrome

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Good question. Here's some images to suggest answers



 

johnfás

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Just so you do get an answer to your question - the Comptroller and Auditor General has the role of auditing and reporting on the finances of Government bodies. However, most of the organs of the State are in some way legally constituted, eg as a state company. Most of those companies also produce audited accounts and are audited by different bodies.

How effective the C&AG is, is an entirely different question.
 

consultant

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I'll tell you who audits the state's finances. Fianna Fail. Thats who.
So, the likes of Haughey, Ahern, Cowen, Flynn, Burke, Lenihan are the people we trust to keep our finances under control? Is that what you are suggesting????

Seriously, why do the government (any Irish government) not have to demonstrate that the finances are being correctly managed on a regular basis? That what they claim is correct?

Why do they deny access to the opposition parties? What is the justification?
 

pujols

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So, the likes of Haughey, Ahern, Cowen, Flynn, Burke, Lenihan are the people we trust to keep our finances under control? Is that what you are suggesting????

Seriously, why do the government (any Irish government) not have to demonstrate that the finances are being correctly managed on a regular basis? That what they claim is correct?

Why do they deny access to the opposition parties? What is the justification?
The justification is simple. They won the election. The opposition lost it.
That is the price of being of losing elections. You are out of power.

You do not get to play at 'pretend being in government'.
 

consultant

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Just so you do get an answer to your question - the Comptroller and Auditor General has the role of auditing and reporting on the finances of Government bodies. However, most of the organs of the State are in some way legally constituted, eg as a state company. Most of those companies also produce audited accounts and are audited by different bodies.

How effective the C&AG is, is an entirely different question.
Thank you - I had forgotten about the C&AG.

Is that, I wonder, a reflection on me or the function?

Both, perhaps?
 

Cassandra Syndrome

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The justification is simple. They won the election. The opposition lost it.
That is the price of being of losing elections. You are out of power.

You do not get to play at 'pretend being in government'.
And who pays their wages? They are our employees. And they should be sacked for gross negligence.
 

pujols

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And who pays their wages? They are our employees. And they should be sacked for gross negligence.
You are missing my point.

I was simply pointing out the political reality vis a vis government and opposition.

If they opposition want access to the books, let them win an election.

That is all.
 

SideysGhost

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We've a feudal system based on Gatekeeper models of information, welath and power.

In a modern system everything should be public. Open Source Government, if you like. Set the information free. After all, we pay for it all and we have a right to know where every last cent is going.

It would be almost trivial to introduce a purchase control system where every bit of expenditure has to be requested, with alternative quotes, and approved by a chain of command. Let the managers of individual units within the PS have control over small purchases up to a certain cumulative budget, have larger expenditure having to be approved up the chain right up to the minister. I've built such systems for companies in the Private sector in Ireland before. It's amazing the waste that tumbles out of the woodwork when you do this.

Zero-based budgeting is another method - go to each individual unit and find out exactly what they actually do (are are supposed to do) all year, the resources they need to do actually deliver the job, whether there are seasonal factors and spikes in activity, and set their budgets and manpower resources accordingly. But sure that would involve thinking things through, planning and accountability, and we don't do any of those things in Ireland.

And all of this should be publicly available to the citizenry.

Of course such systems of openness, accountability and oversight would immediately render useless all of FF's corruption networks and methods of siphoning huge volumes of pork to their supporters.
 

consultant

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You are missing my point.

I was simply pointing out the political reality vis a vis government and opposition.

If they opposition want access to the books, let them win an election.

That is all.
A bit simplistic, isn't it?

They are 'our' (the citizens) books, not just belonging to the elected.

If I don't believe or trust our government, how can I get to see if they are telling me the truth or not?
 

Odyessus

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And who pays their wages? They are our employees. And they should be sacked for gross negligence.
We have in effect, given our deputies a five year contract of employment. The people will have an opportunity to dismiss some, or all of them at the end of that term, or re-appoint them, at their pleasure.

Read the Constitution.
 

dotski_w_

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Thank you - I had forgotten about the C&AG.

Is that, I wonder, a reflection on me or the function?

Both, perhaps?
Would it be unkind to suggest that it's perhaps a reflection on you? I was staggered to see a thread title asking such a simple question.
 

consultant

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Would it be unkind to suggest that it's perhaps a reflection on you? I was staggered to see a thread title asking such a simple question.
Not unkind in the slightest and I will be delighted to avail of the superior knowledge invested in my co-contributors to this site.

Perhaps you can expand my knowledge beyond my newly-acquired self insight and explain the system to me?

I would be sincerely and forever grateful - provided I remember, that is!!
 

dotski_w_

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Not unkind in the slightest and I will be delighted to avail of the superior knowledge invested in my co-contributors to this site.

Perhaps you can expand my knowledge beyond my newly-acquired self insight and explain the system to me?

I would be sincerely and forever grateful - provided I remember, that is!!
All in the public domain, but basically the C&AG audits the accounts, and also checks for value for money with all govt expenditure. They go over the files and also look for the basis for decisions being made. (as a citizen you can look for most such files under FOI, most contentious areas of decisions made in my area have been successfully sought under FOI)

If there are accounting irregularities - particularly if money was spent in a way not mandated by the Oireachtas - this will be taken up. And the annual report usually exposes bad examples decisions that don't appear to be value for money in their eyes.

Obviously much of what the Govt spends money on is a political decision, and it's not for the C&AG to decide about political priorities - that's the people by means of choosing who to vote in.
 

consultant

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All in the public domain, but basically the C&AG audits the accounts, and also checks for value for money with all govt expenditure. They go over the files and also look for the basis for decisions being made. (as a citizen you can look for most such files under FOI, most contentious areas of decisions made in my area have been successfully sought under FOI)

If there are accounting irregularities - particularly if money was spent in a way not mandated by the Oireachtas - this will be taken up. And the annual report usually exposes bad examples decisions that don't appear to be value for money in their eyes.

Obviously much of what the Govt spends money on is a political decision, and it's not for the C&AG to decide about political priorities - that's the people by means of choosing who to vote in.
Thank you for that.

So, why does Burton have a problem claiming a need to see the figures? Equally, why does Lenihan have difficulty with her request?
 

SideysGhost

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Thank you for that.

So, why does Burton have a problem claiming a need to see the figures? Equally, why does Lenihan have difficulty with her request?
Cos like most of the alleged "accountability" mechanisms in Ireland, the C&AG is designed to fail. It's a figleaf. Most of them that I can remember have been good and honourable men doing their best in annual report after annual report to highlight some of the more blatant waste or scams. But they only have a tiny staff, can't investigate everything, they don't have the kind of powers they really need. So they make the best of a bad job and usually highlight one or two cases each year, and hope that that forces procedures to be tightened up in some small area, while being resigned to the vast outpouring of sewage from all the other gaping holes in the system.

An effective C&AG would need to be able to seize any and all records, force disclosure of documents, have court-like powers to compel the appearance of witnesses and compel real answers to be given to questions or face a contempt charge. They would be able to go into any corner of the murky depths of the public sector and root out corruption and dodgy dealings, working closely with the DPP within a framework of comprehensive anti-corruption laws. We'd be seeing prosecutions and lengthy jail terms on a regular basis (cos let's face it, among 300,000+ employees there's always going to be somebody trying on a scam).

We'd be seeing the likes of Forty Gaffs hauled in front of a public C&AG session to explain things like Lost At Sea, and if he refused to give credible answers it'd be off to the Joy with him. That would be an effective auditing and anti-corruption unit.
 

maxthedog

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Thank you for that.

So, why does Burton have a problem claiming a need to see the figures? Equally, why does Lenihan have difficulty with her request?
Because it will show that the C&AG is either incompetent, or a stooge for FF.

There is no way that C&AG can justify the salaries, expenses and costs that FF award themselves and their buddies.

On every criteria whether value for money, or priced against international standards, the C&AG has failed.

Best to stay stumm, and then hope ypu get to kep the Audi when you take the early redundancy.
 

Bleu Poppy

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Thank you - I had forgotten about the C&AG.

Is that, I wonder, a reflection on me or the function?

Both, perhaps?
There's a dual role, in fact.

The C&AG lays his reports before the Public Accounts Committee. This is the only Standing Committee of the Oireachtas and is always chaired by a member of the Opposition. Both entities frequently attract publicity in print and on the airwaves as reports are published, as the Committee sets about its business and as the P.A.C. forensically takes the reports apart to highlight Government waste (as when Michael Noonan was chairing and the electronic voting debacle was being examined) or ineffectual policing of revenue control legislation (as when the late Jim Mitchell's Committee examine doff shore accounts).

Therefore.... it must be you!
 


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