About the ISSAI Framework
Why a common framework of professional standards?
In its Strategic Plan 2005-2010, INTOSAI made it an ambition under Goal 1 to ensure that INTOSAI can provide an up-to-date framework of professional standards that is relevant to the needs of its members. In the light of this ambition the Steering Committee of the Professional Standards Committee (PSC) has decided to merge the existing and new INTOSAI standards and guidelines into a framework. The overall purpose of the framework is to give the members of INTOSAI and other interested parties an overview and common understanding of the auditing standards and guidelines of INTOSAI.
It is the intention that the framework should provide greater focus and attention on professional standards and raise the profile and status of INTOSAI’s standard-setting process – also within the broader accountability community. Moreover a framework will improve the general knowledge of standards and guidelines and facilitate the practical use of them in the INTOSAI community and in the public administration in general.
The framework comprises all documents endorsed by INCOSAI with the purpose of guiding the professional standards used by SAI’s. It is suggested that the name International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) is used as the common name for the body of documents concerning the responsibilities of SAI’s.
For practical and identification reasons standards and guidelines are listed in a systematic number system. Each document will thus get an ISSAI-number.
The framework should emphasize the hierarchical relationship between the documents at the four levels. It is suggested that the number of digits in the ISSAI-number indicates the level in the hierarchy. The framework thus maintains the distinction between Auditing Standards (ISSAI-numbers of 3 digits) stipulating general principles and Implementation Guidelines (ISSAI-numbers of 4 digits) giving more detailed guidance.
The name INTOSAIGuidance on Good Governance (INTOSAI GOV) is used for documents issued by INTOSAI concerning guidance to the administrative authorities, e.g. on internal controls and accounting. Such documents get a 4-digit INTOSAI GOV-number.
Classification principles for International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI)
INTOSAI's Professional Standards Committee will decide on the appropriate classification of documents in accordance with the following principles:
1. The International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI) consist of all documents endorsed by INCOSAI with the purpose of guiding the professional standards of SAIs. This includes recommendations on the legal, organisational and professional prerequisites as well as on the conduct of the auditing and any other tasks with which SAIs may be entrusted. Where appropriate ISSAI-documents may include examples or descriptions of good practices.
2. Each document is given a 1-4 digit ISSAI-number. The number of digits indicates the hierarchical level of the document, i.e.:
Level 1: Founding Principles - contains the founding principles of INTOSAI. The Lima Declaration.
Level 2: Prerequisites for the Functioning of Supreme Audit Institutions - state and explain the basic prerequisites for the proper functioning and professional conduct of SAIs.
Level 3: Fundamental AuditingPrinciples - contain the fundamental principles in carrying out auditing of public entities.
Level 4: Auditing Guidelines - translate the fundamental auditing principles into more specific, detailed and operational guidelines that can be used on a daily basis for auditing tasks.
3. Preambles or introductory remarks to the original proposals to INTOSAI are not considered part of the ISSAIs at level 2, 3 and 4, unless the text contained serves a purpose in guiding the professional standards of SAIs. The information contained in such preambles and introductory remarks will be published at www.issai.org as additional information in connection with the ISSAI-document.
4. Document numbers dividable by 1000 (or 100 or 10) are preferably given to documents of a general scope while the subsequent numbers x001-x999 (or xx01-xx99 or xxx1-xxx9) are used for documents on more specific subjects within the same general theme.
5. The numbers from 1000-9999 are reserved for level 4 (implementation guidelines) and segmented into clusters reserved for different subject areas. The subcommittees of PSC and working groups of Goal 3 are responsible for maintaining the classification within their subject area.
6. When convenient, a reference to specific items (or sections and subsections) within an ISSAI-document can be made by adding the number of the item to the ISSAI-number with a slash ‘/‘. (E.g. ISSAI 3000/5.4 refers to item 5.4 in ISSAI 3000).
7. For documents that have their origin in an ISA (or ISQC) from IFAC/IAASB the last 3 digits of the ISSAI-number are identical with the ISA-number (or ISQC-number). The ISSAI-number designates the ISA with the modifications and supplementary guidance contained in the Practice Note. The items in the Practice Notes are numbered P1, P2, P3...etc. to avoid confusion with item numbers in the ISA.
8. When convenient, an ISSAI document may contain an annex containing further elaborations related to the statements of the main document. Items in the annex should be numbered A1, A2, A3... etc. to avoid confusion with item numbers in the main document.
It should be emphasized that all existing INTOSAI documents will be included in the framework.
9. INTOSAI Guidance for Good Governance comprises documents endorsed by INCOSAI and contains guidance on internal control, accounting standards and other matters within the administrative sphere of responsibility. This includes documents, guiding the SAIs in their professional assessment of measures taken by administrative authorities or guiding administrative authorities and encouraging good governance.
10. The numbers 9000-9999 are reserved for this category of documents, and the acronym INTOSAI GOV is used instead of ISSAI. With this amendment, the classification principles apply also to these documents.
11. Other documents - such as reports, glossaries, lists of organisations or collections of examples for purely inspirational purposes - are not numbered. They can be included in the framework only as an annex to the relevant ISSAI- or INTOSAI GOV-document.
12. The existing document ‘INTOSAI Code of Ethics and Auditing Standards' endorsed by INCOSAI in 2001 is divided into 5 documents and each is given an ISSAI-number. The Code of Ethics belongs to level 2, while each of the 4 chapters of the Auditing Standards becomes a document on level 3. The item numbers are changed to the effect that the digit indicating the number of the chapter is left out.