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Indonesia Financial Audit Board’s use of technology to cope with the coronavirus

During the five-month pandemic, the Financial Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan Republik Indonesia – BPK RI) conducted audits of financial reports from various ministries and state institutions as well as local governments with a work from home (WFH) pattern. Under normal conditions, the submission of unaudited financial reports to BPK would have been made no later than 31 March each year. These reports are then verified by the Audit Board and the Audit Result Report submitted to the representative institution two months after being received by the BPK.

The task of the Audit Board based on its mandate to examine management and accountability of state finances carried out by the central government, regional governments, other state institutions, Bank Indonesia, public service agencies, state-owned enterprises, provincially- or municipally-owned corporations and other institutions or agencies that manage state finances is mammoth in even normal circumstances.

A major problem arose with the advent of coronavirus in Indonesia right at the beginning of March 2020. In just a few weeks, the government decided to enact Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) and implemented a Work from Home (WFH) strategy for most work activities in the community mandatory. This is implemented by almost all ministries, agencies and agencies as well as 483 of the 542 regional governments in Indonesia. This WFH mandate made the work BPK auditors have to carry out WFH very difficult and complex. How the Audit Board managed the situation was revealed by Member V of the Republic of Indonesia BPK in an online interaction on the ins and outs of guarding state finances during a pandemic.

Under normal conditions, the examination of unaudited accounts is done by direct physical examination. With the implementation social restriction measure, the BPK auditors looked to take advantage of cutting-edge information technology. In order to overcome problems arising from the pandemic, the Audit Board implemented alternative procedures and optimised the use of information technology in their audit activities. Everything that could be done with information technology was done to ensure the quality of audits of financial reports.

The chairman of the State Audit Institute for Finance shared how the BPK maximised the use of information technology to overcome obstacles. Computer-based examinations, electronic documentation of working papers according to audit standards, use of the latest version of the Inspection Application System (SiAP) application and an e-audit portal were some of the strategies deployed by the board. Apart from that, BPK auditors also continued to use software for audit analysis such as Audit Command Language (ACL), IDEA and SQL server.

The board utilised simple tools like video conference applications in lieu of face-to-face interviews. They also used more sophisticated technology like of unmanned aircraft (drones) and google maps live to substitute direct physical interactions. The delivery of unaudited files and documents was carried out through delivery services made possible by transportation and logistics technology.

However, a challenge that complicated their coordination was that the internet networks in each region were not of the same quality nor coverage. Further, not all of the accounts and documents required for examination were in soft copy formats. None the less, the Audit Board BPK acknowledged there they were significantly aided in their efforts because of the large number of agencies and local governments that had implemented information system-based financial management.

The management acknowledges that the pandemic taught them many lessons. The use of IT advances has increased time and cost-efficiency. These measures will be continued even when the situation returns to normal or when faced with emergencies in the future.

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