Creating Value through Cooperation
In 2012, decentralised internal control in Montenegro was at early stages of development, the CHU was created from once centralized internal audit unit, the number of appointed auditors was low, and the program for education and certification was non-existent. Cooperation with the Centre of Excellence in Finance helped us design, implement and localize a certification program for internal auditors, which has proved over the course of four cycles that it generates great value for us.
Educated, confident and empowered internal auditors are one of the key pillars of successful internal controls. In order to have this, the Ministry of Finance had to establish a high-quality certification and education program. Having this in mind and thanks to our connections with the CEF, we decided to turn to them for assistance and expertise. This is how our cooperation started.
Nobel Prize winner James Hackman has said that high-quality programs create high-quality outcomes, and TIAPS is certainly among such programs. However, no program could be successful without dedication, passion, commitment and efforts, invested by the CEF and Montenegrin teams, or without the generosity of our donors – the German and Slovenian governments.
Determination to succeed
At the beginning of our cooperation, we agreed on the key goal: delivering an international education and certification program for internal auditors, while creating training capacities in Montenegro and eventually localizing the program. We have faced many challenges and difficulties during program implementation; however, open and honest communication, as well as our orientation to success helped us overcome all the obstacles one by one. The first year was the most difficult: many preparatory activities preceded the actual delivery of program, and some participants showed resistance, as the program is very demanding and comprehensive. Nevertheless, we were determined that nothing would stop this project from becoming a success.
Our teams learned how to work together. We all know the CEF’s excellent reputation; however, trust between the teams had to be established. Besides the CEF, we had CIPFA and the Human Recourse Management Authority (HRMA) as partners. The first obstacles and problems made us realize that we can overcome them only if we build strong partnership and trust. Working together on the selection of trainers, training-of trainers sessions, translation and editing of training materials, and running the localization working group helped the teams to better connect and cooperate.
The first supervision of examination grading, performed by CIPFA experts, made the Montenegrin team feel uncomfortable, but it resulted in better understanding and learning opportunity for the Montenegrin tutors. The process created a strong partnership between the Montenegrin Ministry of Finance, the CEF and the HRMA. The latter is a key partner for delivering the localized program, while the CEF remained our partner in supervising the implementation of the localized program.
The certification program has brought many benefits for Montenegrin certified internal auditors and the country as a whole. On-the-job training, a part of the project, helped the Montenegrin team to apply theoretical knowledge to practice. The project strengthened and emphasized the accountability of tutors as well as the roles and responsibilities of all actors in the program delivery.
The TIAPS project has created value for the Montenegrin public sector and citizens, and will continue to do so. The number of implemented and partial recommendations increased from 60% in 2013 to 84% in 2019, which indicates also the increased quality of recommendations. The higher quality and stronger impact of internal auditing is also evident in the World Bank PEFA 2019 Report Montenegro: the internal audit score improved from C to B+ while the score for internal controls improved from D to B (D indicates performance that falls below the basic level; B indicates advanced performance consistent with good international practices).