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The Philippines Revamping Auditing in the Digital Age

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The Philippines’ House of Representatives recently gave a unanimous nod to the “Revised Government Auditing Act” marking a significant milestone in the overhaul of the archaic Presidential Decree No 1445, also known as the “Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.” This bold step, aimed at aligning the government’s auditing practices with the dynamic digital landscape, reflects a collective acknowledgement of the pressing need for change.

The age-old Government Auditing Code, which has been in place for 45 years, has long been a subject of scrutiny by the Commission on Audit (CA). Committee on Revision of Laws Chair Edward Vera Perez Maceda highlighted the urgency of adapting to the changing times, emerging technologies, and the relentless march of digitisation. The unanimous 258-0-0 vote in favour of the Revised Government Auditing Act underscores the cross-party consensus on the necessity of this legislative update.

One of the pivotal changes introduced by the bill is the reorganisation of the Commission on Audit itself. The powers and functions of key positions, including the Chairperson, Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, Directors, Auditors, Audit Groups, and Audit Teams, have been meticulously defined. The restructuring ensures a more streamlined and accountable organisational framework, adapting to the present conditions and facilitating enhanced transparency in government operations.

The bill also addresses the custodial responsibility of auditors by embracing digital transformation. Auditors are now empowered to use digital copies of audited vouchers, supporting papers, official receipts, and other relevant documents. This move not only reflects a commitment to environmental sustainability but also enhances efficiency and accuracy in the auditing process.

Professionalisation of services is another noteworthy aspect of the bill. The Commission is set to adopt competency-based capacity building and continuing education, aligning itself with international standards and participating in global institutions related to audit and accounting fields. This strategic move aims to elevate the Commission’s capabilities and ensure it remains abreast of international best practices.

A crucial step towards embracing the digital era is the institutionalisation of electronic collection, receipts, payments, and other digitalised transaction audit trails. This forward-looking approach is pivotal in enhancing the efficiency, accuracy, and security of financial transactions within the government.

Besides, the bill empowers the Commission to adjudicate money claims against the government based on liquidated claims and quantum meruit, among other powers. It introduces measures to curb hindrances to the audit process by allowing the imposition of contempt under the Revised Rules of Court and Rules of Procedure of the Commission.

Importantly, penalties for impeding, frustrating, or delaying audits can now be increased, ensuring the efficient conduct of government audits. This reform can be traced back to the Commission’s forward-thinking 2016-2022 Strategic Plan.

A composite Technical Working Group (TWG) representing the 11 Sectors, along with a dedicated Secretariat, diligently reviewed and proposed revisions. The subsequent approval of COA paved the way for the submission of the proposed bill to Congress, showcasing a commitment to modernising government auditing practices.

As the bill progresses to the Senate, the Revised Government Auditing Act stands as a testament to the government’s dedication to fostering accountability, transparency, and efficiency in the digital age. This legislative initiative not only marks a departure from tradition but also heralds a new era where the Commission on Audit is equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolving landscape of governance and technology.


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