LEGAL MANDATE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL AND THE OFFICE OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of Uganda. The provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) as amended under Article 163, sets out the appointment, mandate and removal of the Auditor General.
The appointment of the Auditor General is centrally the mandate of the President with the approval of Parliament. Accordingly standard procedures are followed in his or her appointment with legal safeguards to ensure that he or she is not arbitrarily removed from office.
The Constitution specifically mandates the Auditor General to audit and report on the public accounts of Uganda and to further conduct financial and Value for Money audits in respect of any project involving public funds.
In performing his or her mandate, the Auditor General is guided by both national and international auditing standards; however, the Constitution requires that the Auditor General shall not to be under the direction or control of any person or authority.
The specific legal framework that provides for the mandate of the Auditor General is herein below:
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA, 1995 as amended
(1) There shall be an Auditor General who shall be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament and whose office shall be a public office.
(2) A person shall not be appointed Auditor-General unless that person-
- a) is a qualified accountant of not less than fifteen years' standing; and
- b) is a person of high moral character and proven integrity.
(3) The Auditor General shall:-
- a) audit and report on the public accounts of Uganda and of all public offices including the courts, the central and local government administrations, universities and public institutions of like nature, and any public corporation or other bodies or organizations established by an Act of Parliament; and
- b) conduct financial and value for money audits in respect of any project involving public funds.
(4) The Auditor General shall submit to Parliament annually a report of the accounts audited by him or her under clause (3) of this article for the financial year immediately preceding.
(5) Parliament shall, within six months after the submission of the report referred to in clause (4) of this article, debate and consider the report and take appropriate action.
(6) Subject to clause (7) of this article, in performing his or her functions, the Auditor-General shall not be under the direction or control of any person or authority.
(7) The President may, acting in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet, require the Auditor General to audit the accounts of any body or organization referred to in clause (3) of this article.
(8) The salary and allowances payable to the Auditor General shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund.
(9) The accounts of the office of the Auditor General shall be audited and reported upon by an auditor appointed by parliament.
(10) The Auditor General may be removed from office by the President only for-
- inability to perform the functions of his or her office arising from infirmity of body or mind;
- misbehavior or misconduct; or
In addition, Article 154 (3) of the Constitution states that no monies shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund unless the withdrawal has been approved by Auditor General in a manner prescribed by Parliament.
The mandate conferred by the Constitution is further amplified by the Local Governments Act, 1997, the Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2003 and the Regulations therein and the National Audit Act, 2008.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT, 1997 as amended
Every Local Government Council and Administrative Unit shall keep proper books of accounts and other records in relation thereto and shall balance its accounts for that year and produce statements of final accounts within four months from the end of each financial year.
- The accounts of every Local Government Council and Administrative Unit shall be audited by the Auditor General or an auditor appointed by him or her.
- The Auditor General may carry out surprise audit, investigations or any other audit considered necessary.
- The Auditor General shall give the report of the audited accounts to:-
(a) the Parliament;
(b) the Minister responsible for finance;
(c) the Minister;
(d) the Local Government or administrative unit to which the audit relates;
(e) the Local Government Public Accounts Committee;
(f) the Local Government Finance Commission;
(g) the Inspector General of Government; and
(h) the Resident District commission.
(i) Vice President.
PUBLIC FINANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT, 2003
Grants of credit
“The Auditor General shall, from time to time and on the requisition of the Minister, with the advice of the Accountant General, issue grants of credit on the Consolidated Fund to the Minister-”
Section 13 (2)
“A warrant shall not be issued by the Minister for the purpose of meeting any expenditure unless a grant of credit sufficient to cover the respective sum has been issued by the Auditor General-”
(1) “After the end of each financial year-
(a) the Accountant-General shall prepare and submit to the Auditor-General and the Minister the accounts set out in paragraph 1 of the Second Schedule to this Act, within a period of four months, or any longer period Parliament may, by resolution appoint; and
(b) each accounting officer shall within three months prepare and submit to the Minister and the Auditor-General, with a copy to the Accountant-General, in respect of the financial year and in respect of the votes, revenues, resources and moneys for which the accounting officer is responsible, the accounts and information set out in paragraph 2 of the Third Schedule to this Act.”
(2) The accounts referred to in subsection (1) and the Third Schedule to this Act shall include the accounts of all classified expenditure.
(3) The Minister shall, by statutory instrument, provide regulations subjecting classified expenditure to confidentiality and in particular-
(a) limiting accessibility to information and reporting regarding classified expenditure;
(b) handling and reporting by the Auditor General; and
(c) consideration by Parliament of the report of the Auditor General concerning classified expenditure.
(4) The Minister may, by statutory instrument, and for the purpose of paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4, amend paragraph 2 of the Third Schedule to this Act.
(5) Any accounting officer administering a special fund, and any accounting officer or other public officer administering any agency, trust or other fund or account not provided for in this section, shall prepare, sign and submit to the Accountant General, with a copy to the Auditor General, an account of the agency, trust, fund, or account in the form the Accountant General may from time to time direct.
(6) All accounts submitted under this section shall-
(a) where directed by the Accountant General, be prepared in accordance with the generally accepted accounting practice and in all cases in accordance with any instructions issued by the Accountant General;
(b) identify any significant departures from the generally accepted accounting practice as recognized by the accounting profession in Uganda and approved by the Accountant General for use in Government and shall state the reasons for those departures; and
(c) state the basis of accounting used in their preparation, identify any significant departures from it and the reasons for the departure .
Annual and other reports
(1) On receiving the accounts prescribed by section 31, the Auditor General shall cause them to be examined and audited and shall, within nine months, or such longer period as Parliament may by resolution appoint, after the end of the financial year to which the accounts relate, certify, in respect of each account, the result of the examination and audit.
(2) The Auditor General shall within the period mentioned in sub-section (1), prepare a report upon the examination and audit of all the accounts received in sub-section (1) and submit the report to Parliament.
(3) The Auditor General may, at any time, if it appears to him or her desirable, submit to the Speaker of Parliament and to the Minister a special report on any matter incidental to his or her powers and duties.
(4) Parliament or the Minister may at any time request the Auditor General to make a special report on any matter
Duties of the Auditor General
(1) The Auditor General shall, on behalf of Parliament, examine, inquire into and audit the accounts of -
(a) the Accountant General;
(b) all accounting officers;
(c) all persons entrusted with the collection, receipt, custody, issue or payment of public moneys, or with the receipt, custody, issue, sale, transfer or delivery of any stamps, securities, stores or other Government property;
(d) classified expenditure centres.
(2) The Auditor General in performing his or her functions shall not be under the direction or control of any person or authority.
(3) In exercising his or her powers of audit and examination of accounts, the Auditor-General shall, in addition to satisfying himself or herself as to the matters specified for that purpose in any Act, satisfy himself or herself that-
(a) they conform to the requirements of sub-section (4) of section 31;
(b) the expenditure and receipts shown in the accounts have been dealt with in accordance with proper authority and, in particular, that all expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it;
(c) the financial affairs of the entity audited and all revenues received and public moneys under its control have been handled and conducted with regularity and propriety by the accounting officer or any other responsible public officer; and
(d) all reasonable precautions have been taken to safeguard the receipt, custody, issue and proper use of Government resources and property, and that any regulations, directives and instructions relating to them have been duly observed.
Powers of the Auditor General
(1) In the exercise of his or her duties to audit and examine accounts, the Auditor-General may-
(a) require a public officer, within three months, to give any explanation or information which the Auditor-General may require in order to enable him or her to discharge his or her duties;
(b) authorize any person eligible to be appointed as an auditor of a company or any public officer, to conduct any inquiry, examination or audit on his or her behalf and that person or public officer shall report, from the date of appointment, to the Auditor-General;
(c) without payment of any fee, cause a search to be made in and extracts to be taken from any book, document or record in any public office;
(d) request for the opinion of the Attorney General in writing as to any question regarding the interpretation of any Act or regulation concerning the powers of the Auditor-General, or the discharge of his or her duties, and the Attorney General shall give his or her written opinion within seven days from the date of receiving the request.
(2) Where the Auditor General becomes aware of-
(a) any payment made without due authority; or
(b) any deficiency or loss occasioned by negligence or misconduct; or
(c) any failure to observe a policy of economy; or
(d) any sum which ought to have been but was not brought to account,
he or she shall, in the case of expenditure, disallow it as a charge on public funds and in other cases call in question the sum concerned and make a report on the sum to the Speaker of Parliament, or if the Speaker is, for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, to the Deputy Speaker who shall refer the report to the appropriate Committee of Parliament.
(3) The appropriate Committee shall consider -
(a) every report referred to it under sub-section (2) and give advice to the Minister whether in its opinion, it is appropriate for any public officer to be surcharged in accordance with section 43 in respect of the payment, deficiency, loss or sum concerned; or
(b) whether disciplinary proceedings should be instituted against the public officer; or
(c) whether a surcharge in accordance with section 43 should be made and disciplinary proceedings instituted against the respective public officer.
(4) In the exercise of his or her duties, the Auditor-General or any person duly authorised by him or her in writing, shall have access to all records, books, vouchers, documents, cash, stamps, securities, stores or other public property in the possession of any public officer and may examine, make copies of or take extracts from any document.
Right of Auditor General to submit reports to the Minister
The Auditor General may, for the purpose of-
(a) minimising the unproductive expenditure of public moneys;
(b) maximising the collection of public revenues; and
(c) averting loss by negligence, carelessness, theft, dishonesty or otherwise of public moneys
from time to time, make recommendations to the Minister as the Auditor-General may consider necessary for the better management of public finance, including any revision of any regulations, directives or instructions issued under this Act.
Value for money audits
- The Auditor-General may, for the purpose of establishing the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of any department in respect of which appropriation, or other accounts are required to be prepared under this Act, or any public organisation, or any local government council, inquire into, examine, investigate and report as he or she considers necessary on-
(a) the expenditure of public moneys and the use of public resources by Ministries, departments and divisions of the Government and all public organisations and local government councils;
(b) the conduct of and the performance of their functions by -
(i) accounting officers;
(ii) heads of departments and divisions;
(iii) chief executives and chief administrative officers of all departments;
(iv) public organizations;
(v) local government councils; and
(c) any other activity undertaken by the departments, divisions, public organizations and local government councils mentioned in sub-section (b).
- Any report prepared by the Auditor-General as a result of his or her examinations, enquiries and investigations under this section, shall be laid before Parliament where it shall stand referred to the appropriate Committee of Parliament.
- Section 34 shall apply to any examinations, enquiries and investigations conducted by the Auditor-General in the exercise of his or her powers under this section.
Delegation of functions
A public officer with the authority of the Auditor General, may do anything that the Auditor General can do under this Act, except certifying of and reporting of accounts to Parliament.
NATIONAL AUDIT ACT, 2008
The National Audit Act gave effect to Articles 154 (3) and 163 of the Constitution by providing operational and financial independence for the Office of the Auditor General.
The Act provides for the appointment, tenure and removal of the Auditor General; provides for staff of the Office of the Auditor General; provides for the auditing of accounts of central Government, local Government councils, administrative units, public organizations, private organizations and bodies.
The Act also gives the Auditor General right of access to documents and information relevant to the performance of his or her functions; and for other related matters in the exercise of his functions.
The Act in its totality takes supremacy over all existing Acts relating to the Office of the Auditor General, or to the functions and powers of the Auditor General and any Act in contradiction with the National Audit Act is modified to conform to the provisions of the Act.