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About the area of activity

In performing the tasks assigned to it the National Audit Office carries out public audit. Public audit is an independent and objective assessment carried out in the audited entities by the supreme audit institution.

The National Audit Office carries out three types of public audit:  

  • Financial audit – where the sets of data of annual (consolidated) financial statements and reports on the execution of the budget of the audited entity are assessed and an independent auditor’s opinion is issued.
  • Performance audit – where the activities of the audited entity are assessed in terms of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. 
  • Compliance audit – where compliance of the audited entity’s activities with legal acts and/or other requirements is assessed, and an independent auditor’s opinion may be issued.

In order to improve the performance of the audited entity(s) and increase the public benefit, proposals - recommendations are formulated on the basis of the results of public audits to resolve the problems identified during the audit. Public audit is an important factor in promoting the efficiency, accountability and effectiveness of public sector institutions and improving citizens’ lives.
   

DOCUMENTS PROVIDING GUIDANCE TO PUBLIC AUDITING

Professional standards and guidelines are essential to ensure the reliability, quality and professionalism of public sector audit. The National Audit Office Supreme Audit Institution carry out audits based on The INTOSAI Framework of Professional Pronouncements consisting of the INTOSAI Principles (INTOSAI-P), the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAIs) and Guidelines (GUID).

 
AUDITOR’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR FINANCIAL AUDITS

Illustration: Auditor’s responsibility for financial audits

While performing audit in accordance with International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions, during the entire audit we make professional decisions and observe the principle of professional scepticism. In addition:

  • We identify and assess the risk of material misstatement in (consolidated) financial statements due to fraud or error, design and conduct procedures as a response to such risks and collect sufficient appropriate audit evidence to support our opinion. The risk of material misstatement resulting from fraud is greater than the risk of material misstatement as a result of errors, as fraud may include deceit, counterfeiting, deliberate omission, misinterpretation or disregard of internal controls;
  • We assess the internal control of audited entities (group of entities) so that we can plan audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances and not so that we can express an opinion on the effectiveness of the internal control of the entity (group of entities);
  • We assess the adequacy of the accounting methods used and the validity of the accounting assessments and related management disclosures;
  • We assess the overall presentation, structure and content of (consolidated) financial statements, including disclosures, and whether (consolidated) financial statements contain underlying transactions and events in a manner consistent with the concept of fair presentation.

When conducting group audit, we also collect sufficient appropriate audit evidence of entities’ financial information or activities within the group to give an opinion on the group consolidated financial statements. We are responsible for managing, supervising and implementing the group audit. Only we are responsible for our opinion on the audit.

We also inform those in charge of management about the scope and timing of the audit and significant audit findings, including important internal control deficiencies that we detect during the audit.

Among the matters about which we inform those in charge of management, we distinguish those that have been the most important in the audit of the current financial statements and which are considered to be the main elements of auditing. We describe such matters in the audit report if the law or legal act does not prevent such disclosure from the public, or if, in very rare circumstances, we find that the subject matter should not be presented, because it can reasonably be expected that the negative consequences of such presentation will outweigh the benefits to society.

PLANNING OF PUBLIC AUDIT

Illustration: Planning of public audit

In order to implement the tasks assigned to it, the National Audit Office determine each year the scope of activities in the Annual Activity Plan.

The Institution is independent in deciding which audits or assessments are carried out, and only the Seimas, by its resolution, may assign the National Audit Office to carry out public audit within the scope of its competence.

The institution’s Annual Activity Plan is drawn up in such a way to cover the most important areas of public sector activities and to carryout all public audits and assessments assigned to the National Audit Office by laws and other legal acts. The Annual Activity Plan is approved by the Auditor General after it has been presented to the Seimas Committee on Audit.

 
PUBLIC AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS

Illustration: Public audit recommendations

In order to maximise the impact of public audits and positive developments in the public sector, public audit recommendations are provided during each audit. Taking into account the extent of changes for the implementation of goals of state policy, public governance and society, they are marked as high, medium and low importance. Recommendations are the possibility of the National Audit Office as the supreme audit institution to initiate processes of improvement of the activities of public sector institutions, increase the value of the public sector to society and benefit to the State.

For the implementation of the recommendations and for monitoring their implementation, each time a plan of implementation of recommendations is being prepared and coordinated with the audited entity, which is part of the public audit report. The plan specifies the changes sought by the implementation of the recommendations, their evaluation indicators and values, the deadlines for the implementation of the recommendations and the measures proposed by the audited entity implementing the recommendations, and other important information. The audited entity informs the National Audit Office of the results of the implementation of the recommendations within the deadlines agreed in the plan of implementation of recommendations.

In order to strengthen the impact of the audit on public finance management and control systems and on the improvement of public administration in audited areas, the National Audit Office carries out regular monitoring of the implementation of recommendations. The results of this monitoring: the status of implementation of the recommendations, the responsible entities and the changes that have taken place following the implementation of the recommendations can be followed in Lithuanian in continuously updated open data on the institution’s website. Twice a year, before the spring and autumn sessions of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the National Audit Office submits reports on the monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations to the Seimas Committee on Audit. The reports review the status of implementation of the audit recommendations of high importance for the past half-year, draw attention to the problems observed when implementing the recommendations, identify a list of laws necessary to implement the recommendations and achieve the impact of the audit. These reports are available on the website of the National Audit Office.

 
COOPERATION

Cooperation icon

When implementing its functions, the National Audit Office cooperates with many institutions, including the Office of the President, Seimas, Government, the Association of Municipal Controllers as well as directly with public sector institutions as present or former audited entities. Cooperation of the National Audit Office with the Seimas is very important in making a positive and effective impact of public audit on public finance and asset management and control system. When exercising parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, the Seimas uses the results of the public audit as one of the parts of the system of parliamentary scrutiny and seek that the entities in which the National Audit Office has carried out public audit implement public audit recommendations. The National Audit Office cooperates most intensively with the Seimas Committee on Audit, which regularly considers public audit reports. Depending on the area audited, audit reports (as well as other products produced in implementing other functions of the institution) are submitted for consideration to other committees and commissions of the Seimas.

To implement advanced methods of budgetary governance and internal control in the public sector close cooperation is maintained with the Ministry of Finance, the Association of Internal Auditors, the Association of Municipal Controllers, municipal control and audit services, the Lithuanian Chamber of Auditors in improving the audit and accounting legislation, public sector audit methodologies, and sharing experience.

The National Audit Office has concluded cooperation agreements with the Bank of Lithuania, the Chief Official Ethics Commission, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Public Procurement Office, the Special Investigation Service, the Financial Crime Investigation Service, the State Tax Inspectorate, the Competition Council, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Vilnius University, Vytautas Magnus University, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuanian Chamber of Auditors, the Association of Municipal Controllers, the Association of Internal Auditors.

The National Audit Office also co-operates with various institutions when submitting conclusions, comments and proposals concerning drafts of laws and other legal acts, considers and prepares conclusions regarding draft decisions of the Government.

The National Audit Office maintains collegiate relations with the academic community: representatives of the institution are regularly invited to give lectures to students of higher education institutions, students of general education schools come to get acquainted with the activities of the institution.

The Institution also invites the general public to cooperate; when annually drawing up a public audit programme and deciding which audit topics to choose, the National Audit Office addresses the public by proposing to contribute to the development of the public audit programme in a specially designed tool for this purpose on the website where it is possible to indicate noticeable public sector failures that the National Audit Office could assess during the audit. Proposals of citizens are evaluated and taken into account when choosing directions and topics of public audit.

The National Audit Office also liaise with its peers in foreign countries – other supreme audit institutions. One of the most important expressions of this cooperation is the cooperative international audit. National Audit Office is an active member of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions INTOSAI and the European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions EUROSAI, participates in the work of committees and working groups of these international organisations. Read more about this cooperation in the section Internationality.

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News

Picture for Timely implementation of the National Audit Office recommendations would help manage the consequences of COVID-19 and the migrant crisisTimely implementation of the recommendations issued by the National Audit Office can contribute to managing not only the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic but also the migration crisis that hit the country in the summer, as stated in the latest SAI report on the implementation of public audit recommendations. 

“Lithuania has been making particular efforts in recent years to manage the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the summer, another state-wide emergency was declared due to the increased influx of irregular migrants. Action is needed to prepare for the management of all emergencies. It would be much easier to do this if the recommendations and suggestions made by our institution were implemented in a timely manner," says the Auditor General Mindaugas Macijauskas. 

The evaluation of the recommendations made to public authorities in 2017-2021 distinguishes between those whose implementation would contribute to a more efficient management of emergencies. According to the auditors, changes are needed in the areas of public procurement system, healthcare services, migration management, state border protection and other areas. 

The report states that one third of the recommendations of high and medium importance made by the National Audit Office are already included in the government’s plans. The planned work of the government in implementing the recommendations can make a significant contribution to positive developments in the country, but in order to do so, it is essential that all planned measures are carried out responsibly by the audited institutions. 

The implementation of the recommendations during the first half of 2021 monitors developments in the areas of sustainable finance, public sector governance, open data, environmental protection and justice. As the report shows, since 2017, 49% of all recommendations issued have been implemented.

The supreme audit institution, when carrying out its audits, make recommendations to the institutions and monitor their implementation. The report on the state of implementation of the key recommendations is submitted to the Seimas twice a year. The information on the implementation of all the recommendations of the audits carried out is open to the public on website of the National Audit Office, available in Lithuanian at: https://bit.ly/2WiG4PM.

Picture for National Audit Office: quality assurance in higher education needs improvementThe quality of studies in higher education institutions should be ensured in a more targeted manner, the development and implementation of study programmes should be improved, more attention should be paid to the internationalisation of studies, as shown by the audit carried out by the National Audit Office “Is the quality of studies ensured in higher education institutions”.

There are 37 higher education institutions (18 universities and 19 colleges) in Lithuania, with about 105 thousand students enrolled in the previous school year. From the state budget, some EUR 288 million was allocated to state higher education institutions (which are 23) last year. 

“Higher education promotes economic growth, enhances the country’s overall prosperity, leads to higher employment rates and greater social stability. We carried out an audit to assess how the higher education institutions in our country succeed in ensuring the quality of studies. All state higher education institutions take measures aimed at ensuring the quality of studies, however our audit shows that there is still a need to improve this area," says Kristina Česaitienė, Principal Auditor (Audit Team Leader) of Performance Audit Department 1 of the National Audit Office.

The audit shows that there are no established indicators that would allow the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport to make comparisons between higher education institutions and make informed decisions about them. The availability of comparable indicators on the quality of performance of higher education institutions and the monitoring of progress would make it possible to implement quality assurance measures in a timely manner and to achieve progress in the quality of studies.

The involvement of the social partners and students in the development of study programmes leads to a better understanding of labour market and learning needs and the preparation of higher quality programmes. Unfortunately, at present, social partners and students are often involved “formally” in the programme development process, with more than one third of student representations saying that students are not actively involved in programme development. According to the audit, at least 56.5 % of the on-going programmes were not evaluated on time at the beginning of this year, although some 53 000 (60.1 %) of students were enrolled in them. A stronger focus on the development of study programmes would ensure that they are developed in a high-quality manner.

According to the auditors, greater internationalisation of studies would increase the international attractiveness of Lithuanian higher education, promote the mobility of students and teachers and attract talent from abroad. In Lithuania, the aim was that by 2020 (before the Covid-19 pandemic), 20 % of students would have completed part of their studies abroad, but the proportion was less than 4 %. The mobility of teachers according to institution data is around 13.6 % in colleges and around 11.2 % in universities. In terms of incoming students, Lithuania is twice below the EU average (22 %) in terms of the share of foreign doctoral students in the country (10.1 %). An increased choice of programmes taught in a foreign language and the required level of language proficiency among teachers would allow to attract more foreign students, improve the quality of studies and increase employment opportunities.

By implementing the recommendations of this audit, more targeted measures to ensure the quality of studies would lead to better quality of higher education, study programmes would be more oriented towards students’ learning needs and adapted to the labour market, the internationalisation of studies would contribute to greater mobility of students and teachers, would allow to gain more experience and new skills.

Picture for Even under a state of emergency, state budget funds must be used responsiblyThe National Audit Office, Supreme Audit Institution, carried out an audit of the legality of the implementation of the measures under the objective “Helping businesses to safeguard liquidity“ of the Economic Stimulus and Coronavirus (COVID-19) Consequences Mitigation Plan drafted by the Government in March 2020. EUR 1 424.5 million was allocated for this purpose, of which 40.3 per cent was used in 2020. The audit assessed compliance with legal acts of processes and funds intended to help businesses maintain liquidity and analysed whether the legal environment was sufficient to achieve the goals set and the measures adopted. No significant inconsistencies with legislation have been identified in the allocation of funds, but there is room for improvement of support solutions.

“At the time of the pandemic, urgent solutions were needed; however, in any situation, state budget funds must be used responsibly and transparently. The state must be constantly ready to quickly develop new or improve the existing business support schemes that would function effectively and would help to mitigate the difficulties or threats faced by the country’s businesses", said Auditor General Mindaugas Macijauskas.

The audit report draws attention to the lack of consistency and information in the planning of expenditure to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19. The European Commission has recommended that Member States pay particular attention to supporting micro and small enterprises, as they make a significant contribution to jobs and growth. The model of business promotion to maintain liquidity chosen in Lithuania allowed enterprises whose annual income is estimated at tens of millions of euros to also receive subsidies meant to micro enterprises (which employ no more than 9 employees). In 2020, among those receiving subsidies meant for micro enterprises there were 10 large enterprises (whose annual income exceeds EUR 50 million or balance sheet assets exceed EUR 43 million), 113 medium enterprises (whose annual income does not exceed EUR 50 million, balance sheet value does not exceed EUR 43 million) and 938 small enterprises (whose annual income and balance sheet assets do not exceed EUR 10 million).

When assessing loans granted to agricultural entities, it is noted that they were provided responsibly and in order to ensure that the funds from the state budget would be used as transparently as possible. However, a third of the municipalities checked (11 out of 34) and the National Paying Agency, which had to assess whether the beneficiaries were in financial difficulties before the start of the pandemic, indicated that they did not assess the financial statements of the applicants and trusted in the information provided in their applications that they had not experienced difficulties before 31 December 2019.

Having assessed the experience and practice of the pandemic period, the auditors draw attention to the importance of equal principles and conditions based on objective criteria for different business sectors to receive state budget support in order to achieve transparent and targeted use of state budget funds.

It is now crucial to implement the recommendations previously made by the National Audit Office so that decisions are taken quickly and in compliance with legislation in the state of emergency, and that financing models be developed working both in good economic times and in emergencies.


   

Picture for Even under a state of emergency, state budget funds must be used responsibly