CAG seeks debate on probing government policies

CAG seeks debate on probing government policies

"There is yet another issue which confronts a performance auditor. Should he or should he not question a particular government policy or suggest policy alternatives,” asked Rai in his inaugural address.

"There is a view that while such matters are essential components of programme evaluation, they are excluded from the scope of performance audits. Discuss these issues with various faculty members during the (training) programme,” said Rai, seeking a full-fledged debate on the issue.

Rai's poser came on the heels of the law ministry opining that just like the courts, the CAG and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) too should not question the government's policies.
The law ministry has given its opinion on a querry from the telecommunications ministry on whether its allotment of 2G spectrum could be scrutinised by the CAG. The law ministry had asserted that this was beyond the CAG's and CVC's ambit.

Rai's remarks also came on the day Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the CAG as an institution, saying scams "can be halted in mid-stride" if prompt attention is drawn to them "when they are being planned and executed".

"Post-mortems are good but they can be conducted only when a patient is dead. Scandals and scams are known even when they are being planned and executed. If audit draws attention to them forthwith in a well-published manner, such scandals can be halted mid-stride," Moily said while inaugurating a two-day conference on Right to Information organised by the Central Information Commission.

Dwelling upon the newly-developing concept of performance audit, Rai said: “Another recent phenomenon witnessed globally is that governments are accountable to their stakeholders more than ever before and are increasingly being called upon to demonstrate results.”
"Stakeholders are no longer satisfied with ensuring compliance with rules and the regularity of expenditure; they are now interested in actual outcomes,” he said.

"They want to know if value for money is being achieved from the expenditure of public funds and expect a greater accountability from public managers for the collection, spending and management of public funds,” he added.

"This requirement has evoked a response from public auditors and the government. The government of India has established a framework for evaluating the performance of various departments based on measurable targets and performance indicators through a results framework document approach,” Rai said.

"Performance audit has assumed great importance today in view of the prominence gained by governance and service delivery.”

"Performance auditing promotes concepts and principles that enable the public auditor to go beyond traditional compliance issues and enable him to examine performance of the executive in a wider context,” Rai pointed out.

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