They need to ensure that their audit methods are up-to-date, accurate and capable to uncover bad governance so that they can recommend innovative and adequate solutions.
Old threats in a new environment
Due to the expanding of responsibilities and new fields of activities, public sector auditors need to extend their know-how on a daily basis. At the same time, fraud and corruption remain the biggest threat to a proper functioning of public institutions. The European Academy for Taxes, Economics & Law supports internal and external auditors by providing the high-quality practical seminars and trainings in key issues such as:
Extend your expertise by participating in the various events held by the European Academy for Taxes, Economics & Law in this area.
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Many authorities within the management and control system of EU Funds still face considerable difficulties and uncertainties when it comes to detecting and handling (suspected) fraud cases. They are presented with the challenge of distinguishing these cases from irregularities as well as identifying necessary actions.
The European Commission has set out detailed arrangements on the management and control systems to be operated by Member States for the EU Structural Funds in both programming periods (2007-2013 and 2014-2020).
The European Union provides various funds and instruments to support stakeholders such as universities, research centres and companies in the fields of research and development and the commercialisation of research results. However, financial accounting and reporting of EU-funded projects are considered very time consuming and complex.
The ESI Funds 2014-2020 offer the possibility to support an operation comprising a series of works, activities or services of a precise economic or technical nature (for which the total eligible costs exceed 50 million Euro) as well as operations contributing to one thematic objective (where the total eligible costs exceed 75 million Euro) such as transport, water, waste and energy projects.
In recent years, cases of food fraud have shaken the European Union. From the melanin contaminated baby-milk to horse meet in pre-cooked meals. All these scandals have in common, that they pose a great threat to public health, the perception of security in the population and trust in government regulations while they offer huge profit margin for the criminals.
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007-2008, there is a new focus on goals and results and a constant pressure for balancing between resources and outcomes in the public sector. National, European and international public institutions are increasingly urged to assess and increase their performance in order to improve public budget’s efficiency.
In current times of tight public budgets, public administrations must set and achieve their goals in the most effective, efficient and economical way. This new obligation also alters the responsibilities of auditors in the public sector. To ensure that public institutions operate most efficiently and effectively, auditors can no longer focus on their traditional task of financial audits.
With the start of the new programming period 2014-2020 new regulations and rules regarding financial management, control and audit have been introduced. On the basis of the Common Provisions Regulation, Fund-specific rules as well as delegated and implementing acts EU-Member States have created and set up management and control systems for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) 2014-2020.
Fraud and corruption in the public sector heavily harm the economy, lower investment levels and reduce public finances. Anti-fraud and anti-corruption strategies are often not effective enough and damages done to public institutions and their budgets by fraud and corruption can be enormous ranging from financial loss to reduction of organisational performance, reputation, credibility and public confidence.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States remain the world’s biggest donor, providing more than half of all development aid worldwide. However, in order to cooperate successfully with the EU and to benefit from the external cooperation funds, beneficiaries have to follow a multitude of administrative regulations and fulfil all external audit requirements.
Energy projects are at the centre of attention in the current programming period 2014-2020. Projects in the fields of energy efficiency (EE), renewable energies (RE) and CO2 reduction have a special focus due to their importance in reaching the Europe 2020 goals: Cohesion policy funding will allocate an estimated total of 36 billion EUR to investments in energy efficiency, renewable, smart grids and urban mobility. Horizon 2020 will designate approximately 5.4 billion EUR to research and innovation in “secure, clean and efficient energy” and 840 million EUR to energy efficiency alone.
Modern public institutions are depending on functioning IT in their daily business. Therefore, IT emergencies represent a constant fundamental threat. However, it is not always possible to avoid such threats and emergencies do occur regularly. In case of emergency it is necessary to contain the damage.
Whether internal or external, strategic, financial, operational or reputational risks – these can significantly hinder the work of your authority. In the current economic and financial context the lack of an adequate approach to risk management is an enormous and real threat to the work of any public administration, since nowadays work efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector are more important than ever before. For that reason, it is of extreme importance that public authorities do not rely solely on their intuition in dealing with risks, but use professional formalised risk management as an integral and ongoing part of their general management process.
Higher education and research institutions face unique challenges in Internal Audit. Their complexity, individuality and diverse foci and fields of work make for a wide array of issues, which are not covered by common place Internal Audit knowledge covered by Internal Audit in the private sector.