Relations with External Audit Bodies

Image External Audit Bodies

Most Autonomous Regions, in accordance with their Statutes of Autonomy, or as provided in the relevant regulatory laws, have created their own external audit bodies (OCEX).  OCEX carry out audit activities on the Administration of the respective Regional Administration and of that of Local Authorities of their territory without prejudice to the exercise by the Court of Auditors in its supervisory function over the entire public sector, at state, regional and local level.

However, OCEX are not competent to exercise the role of accounting prosecution, without prejudice to the possibility of carrying out, by delegation, proceedings preliminary to the strictly judicial function for the requirement of accounting liability.

In connection with the exercise of the audit function, Articles 27 and 29 of the Law on the Court of Auditors provide for the existence of coordination measures between the Court and OCEX, by establishing common criteria and audit techniques to ensure greater efficiency in the results and avoid duplication in audit proceedings.

To this end, the OCEX shall transmit to the Court of Auditors the individualized results of the examination and audit of the accounts of the autonomous public sector bodies, as well as reports, memoranda, motions or memos they approve.  This documentation must be accompanied by the necessary background, the Court of Auditors being able, at its discretion, to practice the additional verifications it deems appropriate, and incorporate its own conclusions to the reports, memoranda, motions or memos it approves, for the purpose of their referral to the Spanish Parliament and, where appropriate, to the Legislative Assemblies of the Autonomous Regions. 

Also, the Plenum of the Court of Auditors may request specific audit actions, referred both to regional and state public sector, from the OCEX.

In addition to the above, the coordination between the ECA and OCEX is embodied in various kinds of actions:

  • Exchange of respective Annual Audit Programmes, in order to plan and program coordinated actions for each of the external audit bodies, avoiding unnecessary duplication or the existence of audit-exempt areas as far as possible.
  • Conducting joint audits between the Court of Auditors and OCEX on common areas, such as public universities or municipal land.
  • Celebrate regular coordination meetings both between the Presidents of external audit bodies and Coordination Committees constituted in the following areas: public sector within the Autonomous Region, local public sector and standards and audit procedures.
  • Creating a Platform for accountability, managed jointly by the Court of Accounts and most OCEX, through which most of the Spanish Local Authorities provide the information needed for accountability electronically, avoiding duplication of such accounts. Additionally, there is a website for accountability, which makes the status of accountability available for all citizens, as well as of the content of those accounts regarding the entities that make up the local government.

 

As regards the proceedings of a judicial nature, although OCEX cannot exert its actions in this area, since it is an exclusive function of the Court of Auditors, it is expected to carry out the preliminary proceedings when so delegated by the Court, usually towards greater efficiency in conducting the preliminary proceedings.

The delegation of the repayment for debtor balance proceedings is agreed by the Management Board of the Court of Auditors; OCEX must proceed to the appointment of a civil servant to carry out the actions specified by the preliminary proceedings.

Also, the laws regulating OCEX stipulate that, if in the course of its audit activities evidence of accounting liability is detected, the case shall be submitted to the Court of Auditors to proceed, where appropriate, for prosecution.