Mrs. Pamela Monroe Ellis
Mrs. Pamela Monroe Ellis was appointed Auditor General in 2008 having spent the early part of her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ), and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA, UK). She is also a member (as Auditor General) of the Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI), and was appointed Secretary General in June 2016. Mrs. Monroe Ellis is also a member of the International Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Working Group on the Value and Benefit of Supreme Audit Institutions and Board Member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). She was recently appointed to serve as Jamaica’s representative on the CARICOM Secretariat Audit Committee. She also chairs the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica Investigations Committee.
Firstly, I must commend INTOSAI’s KSC for this innovative gesture to re-engage its membership into active participation and knowledge sharing via this virtual platform. I anticipate exciting times ahead and look forward to the many articles and information that will be published.
Secondly, as Auditor General of SAI Jamaica and recently appointed Secretary General of the Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI), I am honoured to have the opportunity to share the following article on CAROSAI. It is my hope that the piece will do justice in summarizing the journey of an organization that sets out to be exemplary.
The Caribbean Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI), as the name suggests, is made up of supreme audit institutions of the Caribbean region. CAROSAIs’ history began in 1988 in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, with 7 members; today it boasts 23 members – more than twice the initial membership.
Over the years, our predecessors have been collegial in marshaling the activities of CAROSAI and laid the foundation of an organization accountable to its members. Its developmental years were nurtured by Trinidad and Tobago who passed the baton to St. Lucia who contributed to the growth of the Secretariat for an additional 11 years. Unfortunately, though, for years we did not have the benefit of an adequately staffed Secretariat and this exacerbated our challenges; we relied heavily on volunteerism to get the work done. However, in the face of several challenges, what was ever present and evident when we convened was the passion to get things done. For thirty years, CAROSAIs’ activities have been governed by a comprehensive and scalable charter, developed by the founding members, that propelled its membership to significant achievements that include the launch of a new Website and the establishment of sub-committees that are aligned to the organization’s strategic business plan.
During the past two and a half years, we have had a renewal of spirit following our congress which was held in Suriname in 2016. CAROSAI went through a period of transition with the assumption of a new Chairman – Charmain Felter from SAI Suriname and the transfer of the Secretariat from SAI St. Lucia to SAI Jamaica.
At the said congress, all attendees agreed on a roadmap for developing and implementing the organization’s strategic priorities. We all accepted that it could not be business as usual and, importantly, also accept that in the past, the capacity building initiatives facilitated by CAROSAI was not applicable to all. This was evident in some member bodies becoming disenchanted and disengaged. Consequently, following a careful review of its mandate and the results of a SWOT analysis and needs assessment survey, CAROSAI adjusted its mission to take on a facilitator role in “contributing to its members becoming professional SAIs.”
The INTOSAI Development Initiative (IDI) and donor partners such as the World Bank (WB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) never lost faith in us; of course, this was encouraging and helped us forge ahead.
Over the last 10 years, the IDI has been supporting programmes and projects implemented by CAROSAI to enhance its professional capacity and to strengthen the organizational efforts of its members. In 2014, the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK, under the INTOSAI – Capacity Building Committee Guidelines, funded a Cooperative Pilot Performance Audit of Revenue Departments. This project served to harmonize performance audit approaches and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst auditors within CAROSAI.
CAROSAI also received grant funds from the World Bank for the Project “Strengthening Country Systems for better Investment Results”. Under this project, an audit manual and audit programme on “Auditing Capital Projects” were developed for the Region. Pilot audits using the manual and programme were performed in three (3) member countries.
Since June 2016, CAROSAI has achieved a number of targets, which include:
- Strategic Business Plan for 2017-2021
- Redesigned Website (as means to improve communication).
- Conducting monthly virtual meetings of the Executive Council through the generosity of the IDB
- An e-Learning Management System (eLMS) platform
When I reflect on CAROSAI’s journey, a line from Sam Cooke’s song “A Change is Gonna Come” comes to mind: “it’s been a long, a long time coming but I know a change gonna come”. I believe the line in this song captures aptly our journey as an organization. How so? CAROSAI is made up of member bodies who lack resources but are gifted with the spirit of determination and although we have fallen short on the achievement of some of our targets, we remained resilient, persistent and committed to a purpose – to be an exemplary group of SAIs.
As indicated earlier, CAROSAI recognizes its 30 years of existence which will be marked by a three-day conference to be held in Kingston, Jamaica during August 15 to 17, 2018, under the theme “Building the Future on the Foundation of the Past”. We will be having high level discussions on SAI independence, issues of relevance to SAIs acting in the Public Interest and exploring the SAI of the Future. We have confirmed a number of partners to this event, which includes the IDI, IDB and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC); discussions are underway with a few others.
As it relates to SAI independence, we have invited all the regions to participate in a round table discussion with other key stakeholders, which include Government representatives, donor partners and INTOSAI leadership. We are looking forward to this conference which is aimed at being another plank for us in furthering our mission.
Going forward, CAROSAI aims to continue the implementation of its Strategic Business Plan. Our efforts will continue to be centered on achieving our expected outcomes, realigning where necessary and retooling where needed.