To improve accountability around the world, representatives of the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Center for Audit Excellence and the U.S. Agency for International Development signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday to set up a framework for collaboration on training and technical assistance efforts.

The goal of the agreement is to enhance the capabilities of audit organizations in developing countries. The MoU was signed at a ceremony at USAID headquarters. 

“Today’s memorandum of understanding will help GAO and USAID advance a shared interest in strengthening accountability institutions around the world,” said Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO, in a statement. “Independent, professional audit offices are a vital part of sound public financial management systems. This agreement will foster closer cooperation between our two organizations in order to help develop audit offices that are capable of fighting corruption, ensuring transparency, and promoting public trust.”

The MOU will leverage the Center’s audit expertise and USAID’s knowledge of the environment in developing countries to help improve auditing capacity.

The goal is to help audit offices in developing countries hone their skills to produce high-quality work on a regular basis and assume an effective oversight role. Capable audit institutions can also assist national efforts to track the progress of government activities undertaken to support sustainable development goals.

According to the MOU, the Center for Audit Excellence and USAID are well-positioned to work together because they bring complementary expertise and skills to the task of building audit community capacity.

The next step in the collaboration will be the establishment of a mechanism, such as a committee comprising representatives from both organizations, to coordinate activities, share information, identify capacity development opportunities, and explore financial, logistical and technical contributions to such efforts. The MOU was signed by GAO Managing Director for Strategic Planning and External Liaison James-Christian Blockwood and USAID Deputy Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt.

The GAO established the Center for Audit Excellence last year to provide training, technical assistance, and related services to domestic and international accountability organizations. To ensure high-quality services while providing independence from GAO units doing routine audit and oversight work, the Center is staffed primarily by former senior-level GAO auditors and managers. Fees collected are used to support the Center’s operations.

The Center for Audit Excellence should not be confused with the Center for Audit Quality, a separate organization that works with the accounting profession to improve audits.

Another group, the International Federation of Accountants, has also been working in recent years on improving accounting practices and creating organizations for professional accountants in developing countries.

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