Rome, November 19, 2017 - 16.57
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Public Sector Auditing

Inspections

An Introduction to the Public Finance Inspecting Services

INSTITUTIONAL POSITION

The Public Finance Inspecting Services (S.I.Fi.P.) were set up in 19391, depending on the Treasury Ministry, General Accounting Office, General Inspectorate of Finance.

NATURE AND DISCIPLINE

The Inspecting Services are a body that is part of the Italian State Administration; it is concerned with audit tasks relating to administrative and financial correctness; its competence is gen­eral in scope. Unlike other inspecting offices in the Italian Civil Service, the tasks of S.I.Fi.P. are not performed because of some subordination of the inspected units, but, on the contrary, because of a power expressly conferred by the law for the very purpose of auditing public finance.

The auditing activity deals with administrative and financial documentation exclusively, which public officers are bound to exhibit.

As the auditing activity towards State Offices does not come from hierarchy, and towards public bodies and local councils being inter-institutional, the object, the aims, and the inspected subjects of the activity of S.I.Fi.P. cannot be but defined by the law.

OBJECT

The object of auditing is the financial and patrimonial administration of Public Offices.

PURPOSES

The purposes of the inspectors' activity lay in forcing public budgets to comply with economic and legal rules; besides, in proposing measures from which savings in the budget can be expected.

INSPECTED SUBJECTS

The following public services are the inspected subjects:

- State Offices, every kind of State school, college and every educational body included;

- State Services and State Enterprises enjoying statutory autonomy;

- All the-self governing local bodies (Regions, Provinces, Municipalities, Mountain Bodies, their consortia and associations);

- University bodies;

- General housing bodies;

- Chambers of Commerce;

- National, District (regional), and Local public bodies for general (not-economic) purposes;

- National Health Service Administrations and other Bodies; - Public Economic Bodies and Enterprises for public utilities;

- Other Public or Private Bodies, where special arrangements with State Offices, which are allowed to order inspection visits, are concluded.

ORGANISATION

At central level, the S.I.Fi.P. are organised in 4 sectors to everyone of which special tasks are assigned, according to subject.

For decentralisation purposes, the whole national territory has been divided into five districts. The body is made of 152 executive positions, 4 of which relate to the sectors and 148 to inspecting and co-ordinating tasks. Among these latter, 62 positions are charged with legal and financial auditing of an especially difficult nature and relevance, while the other 86 positions are charged with inspections of a more ordinary kind.

The Head of the Sector is charged with working out the annual audit program.

The Co-ordinator is charged with the preliminary analysis of the issues to be inspected, in order to smooth the way to a quick and biting inspecting activity; he tries, co-operatively with the inspected service, to find a solution to any irregularity found out during the inspection.

The Inspector is charged with the material auditing and is expected to report on it finally. The co-ordinating tasks may each time be demanded to other central or territorial offices of the Ministry.

OFFICES TO BE INFORMED OF THE RESULTS OF THE INSPECTIONS

The subjects whose results of inspections are send to are:

1) the inspected services and bodies;

2) the Department on which the inspected service is depending or that is charged with controlling the inspected service;

3) the District Prosecutor, territorially competent, of the Court of Auditors, who is informed of losses affecting the treasury.

INSPECTING METHODOLOGIES

The inspecting activity is performed according to two different methods:

A "single-inspection" method, based on a single inspection;

An "aimed" one, based on a plan of co-ordinated inspections.

The "single-inspection" inspecting activity can either be general or special in purpose. It is general in purpose when the whole financial and patrimonial administration falls within the scope of the inspection; it is of a special kind when defined issues only are targeted at.

The "aimed" method has grown in relevance during the last few years. The scope of S.I.Fi.P. powers enables the performing of tasks opening the way to "horizontal" auditing; comparative evaluations of close sectors, functions and accountable centres, are therefore viable.

Evaluation by standards ("bench-marking", as in the Anglo-Saxon business world is called) is the most relevant and significant task in which the S.I.Fi.P is currently involved.

In accordance with present trends in matter of auditing the Civil Service, the structure of S.I.Fi.P, such as outlined above, tries to privilege an auditing methodology in the inspecting activity of a co-operative and not inquiring kind; the purpose is to allow the inspected service to find a solution to poor performances and irregularities which have been found out.

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1 Act no. 1037, 26th July 1939.