The sixty-first meeting of the Panel of External Auditors, chaired by Girish Chandra Murmu, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, was held from 6 to 7 December as a hybrid session hosted from the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Panel consists of the Heads of 13 Supreme Audit Institutions who are either elected or selected to conduct the external audit of the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes and specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and one observer. The meeting was attended by representatives of Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Ghana, Philippines, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United Republic of Tanzania as an observer.
External auditors are independent of the United Nations and conduct financial statements and performance audits. The United Nations Panel of External Auditors is a unique forum for the exchange of information and methodologies to further develop and improve the value and quality of the external assurance process. The Panel seeks to support the delivery of high‑quality, standards-based assurance to ensure that reported financial information provides a transparent and accurate basis for the financial decisions made by the United Nations, its specialized agencies and IAEA. The Panel’s Technical Group also met from 1 to 3 December to discuss technical matters and prepared for the ensuing discussions by their Principals on 6 and 7 December.
The Panel discussed several topics. Financial issues included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on assumptions used for preparation of financial statements such as after service health insurance, impairment indicators and provisions, updates of accounting standards including refinement of accounting policies for harmonizing the budget consolidation related to IPSAS 24, definition of control of entities with regards to IPSAS 35 and issues in auditing investments by United Nations entities. Programme and project delivery issues included the impact of COVID-19 on operations. Other issues related to auditing public administrations in the domain of digital transformation, environmental, social and governance concerns for the United Nations, outsourcing of services and especially hiring of non-staff and implementation of common back offices as part of the reform of the United Nations system.
The Panel met with the Secretary-General for an exchange on important issues to the United Nations system entities.
More details on the Panel’s working are available on its website at www.un.org/en/auditors/panel.
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