Civil society organizations (CSOs) & media are part of the broader ecosystem of audit accountability and their engagement in the audit process particularly in performance audit is critical said Ramu Prasad Dote, Deputy Auditor-General. Speaking at “Journalists’ Training in Audit Accountability” hosted by Freedom Forum & Office of Auditor General (OAG), he stressed on the need of CSOs &media on highlighting the reports of the Office of Auditor General in a way that public & general people can easily associate & understand.

Delivering an interactive presentation on ‘Audit Accountability & Citizen Engagement Strategy,   Deputy AG presented information on accountability types, ecosystem, and citizen engagement, the role of media as well as reflection of media coverage in past & present. Answering the queries of economic journalists along with the presentation, he reflected on media coverage of the latest 2077 annual report of OAG & how media covered the same. As this coverage is more & more encouraging, performance audit reports should also have at least or even more coverage, he said. Bhim Gautam, President of Society of Economic Journalists Nepal (SEJON), presented a presentation on Infrastructure & Performance Audit focusing on journalistic aspect synchronization with technical aspects.

20 topics from the last 3 performance audit reports of the Office of Auditor General (55th, 56th & 57th) were selected for the training ranging topics from Performance Audit, Environmental Audit as well as IT Audit. Users’ Group, Government Vehicle management, Big National Projects, Community Schools, Public Corporations, electronic government procurements, etc. were some topics for the training of journalists vying for larger and multi-discipline coverage of journalists’ views & training on these reports.

Economic journalists attending training on audit accountability

Economic Journalists presented their views on reports as well as raised more than 100 issues based on performance reports and how these reports can be disseminated and made into the news from a journalistic point of view. Hari Bahadur Thapa & Taranath Dahal with appreciating participants’ views put forward their own observations of reports and how much more can be pulled out & into public eyes in the name of reports, opinions, and articles citing the performance audit reports. Similarly, both trainers highlighted on how topics are to be reported, ways of further investigation on reports, how to accumulate other information based on these reports. Mr. Ashok Karki, Assistant AG, Mr. Dhurba Raj Bhusal, Director & Mr. Rajendra Raj Ojha, Director of OAG, Nepal answered the queries about reports and hoped for media to circulate and be proactive on covering performance audit reports extensively. Mr. Krishna Sapkota of FF addressed the workshop on how performance audit reports and Right to Information can be utilized simultaneously for investigative reports as well as further reporting on audit reports findings.

Supreme Audit Institute (SAIs) partnership with Freedom Forum was effective in engaging media & CSOs for promoting audit accountability said Ashok Karki, Assistant AG. He praised the role of freedom forum in this initiative and thanked all participants with the hope of their continuous engagement in the future.  The workshop was ended with appreciation and word of thanks from Assistant AG after the distribution of certificates to all participants.

The training workshop was hosted by the Office of Auditor General & Freedom Forum with collaboration support from the Society of Economic Journalists Nepal with financial assistance of International Budget Partnership (IBP) at Sap Falcha, Thapathali, and Kathmandu on Tuesday 28of July 2020. 21 (7 Female & 14 Male)  economic journalists were present along with 3 officials from the Office of Auditor General in observer capacity in the workshop while Hari Bahadur Thapa & Taranath Dahal were trainers for the workshop.