Vietnam Applies International Standards to Environmental Audits

Ms. Nga is coaching a colleague on best practices for reporting audit findings.
Nguyen Thi Quynh Nga coaches a colleague on best practices for reporting audit findings.
Nguyen Van Anh/USAID GIG Program
Fellowship program brings auditors together from around the world
“Effective auditing makes policy makers aware about the gaps between policy and practice.”

July 2017—Nguyen Thi Quynh Nga understands the important role auditing institutions play in evaluating policy and influencing governmental decisions. She has over 13 years’ experience at the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV).

“Effective auditing makes policy makers aware about the gaps between policy and practice,” explained Nga. “SAV often advises government ministries on how policies should be developed to support good governance.”

Aiming to improve its ability to fulfill this key role, SAV nominated Nga to participate in the International Auditor Fellowship Program of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In 2016, with support from USAID, Nga became the first Vietnamese fellow accepted into the program since it began in 1979.

With a leadership position at SAV’s newly established Environmental Audit Division waiting on her return, Nga set off for Washington, D.C., determined to make the most of the four-month program. Although Nga found the weather surprisingly cold, the atmosphere among the fellows was not. The fellows, who came from Asia, Europe and South America, found common ground in their motivation to share experiences and learn from each other.

Apart from highlighting international best practices, the program develops leadership skills by providing fellows with insights into the auditing process from an institutional, big-picture perspective. Most memorable for Nga were the congressional hearings she attended. “We observed how GAO auditors present their findings to policy makers at the highest levels of the U.S. Government,” she said.

Since her return, Nga has been applying what she learned and sharing it with colleagues—from detailed techniques for data analysis, to broad strategies for organizational planning and coordination. And the Environmental Audit Division is already making an impact. SAV has adopted international standards and best practices for its audits on industrial wastewater management in Vinh Phuc and Ninh Binh provinces.

“Ms. Nga has spent a lot of time training us, especially on reporting methods, making sure our findings are reported clearly and accurately,” said To Tuan Anh, an assistant auditor at SAV.

“I’ve been able to apply best practices to a lot of our day-to-day work. It’s made a real difference,” said Nga.

This work has been supported by USAID’s Governance for Inclusive Growth Program, which is implemented by Chemonics International and runs from December 2013 to December 2018. The program works with the Government of Vietnam to support trade, legal and regulatory reforms, governance, and inclusive economic growth. So far, the program has implemented more than 40 activities to enhance policy development and has cooperated with more than 50 social organizations to support legal and regulatory reform.


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