The project is aimed at promoting good governance, strengthening financial management to achieve operational efficiency and encouraging accountability within Government. The ultimate goal is that by 2014, all 283 municipalities and provincial departments within the nine provinces will achieve clean audits on their annual financial statements.
The programme is targeted at addressing the current challenges faced by local and provincial government. The first basic area of improvement will be the ability to produce reliable monthly financial and management information, which is essential for the monitoring of service delivery activities. Basic standard operating procedures will have to be implemented to ensure that proper record-keeping and the availability of supporting documentation will become a standard routine practice. Emphasis will be placed on timeous submission of monthly and quarterly reports to local government and provincial treasury. In addition, municipalities will also be required to forward an audit readiness report on an annual basis discussing the progress made to date.
However, these processes will only be achievable if there is adequate human resource capacity to perform these basic financial and management functions. This will initiate capacity building programmes to bridge the skills gap, and new appointments of finance staff will need to meet the prescribed competency requirements.
The next focus area is to strengthen the governance structures and regimes. This will only be achievable if there are effective governance arrangements in place, which includes a fully functional internal audit committee to ensure that internal controls are adequate and any inefficiencies are dealt with timeously. Proper risk management and established audit committees will also play an important role. Mechanisms must also be put in place to implement plans to remedy audit queries and findings raised in the audit reports. However, to comply with all the elements of good corporate governance, the commitment and participation of senior management is essential.
The third and most significant area of improvement is adequate leadership. It is imperative that influential public officials create an environment that is conducive to good financial management and service delivery. This includes timeously reacting to situations to mitigate risks and taking the necessary corrective actions to address non-performance. This will help eliminate inadequate administrative and political oversight and strengthen the accountability and responsibility of government leaders.
Finally, if Government continues its commitment to operation clean audit 2014, this will promote a positive attitude and regain the confidence of the public with regards to enhanced service delivery.