The Turkish Court of Accounts was a latecomer to the process of public financial management reform. With just a little support from the World Bank, it has been making up for lost time and is emerging as an important actor at home and abroad.
At the World Bank, we dream of a world free from poverty and conflict, a sustainable planet, and boosted shared prosperity for all. To achieve this, we need stronger social and economic systems, better infrastructure, and technological progress. Good governance is the foundation to make it all possible.
Turkey’s Parliament already has passed the Public Financial Management and Control Law (PFMCL) in 2003 (Law No. 5018). The law helps the national budget match strategic objectives and multi-year economic projections while helping serve multiple purposes:
- To help government and public institutions raise revenues, spend, and borrow in the amounts permitted by Parliament;
- Ensure that the revenues, expenditures and property of all public institutions to be comprehensively reported;
- and for internal and external auditing systems to monitor the performance and efficiency of the government sector as well as the lawfulness of its financial transactions.
One key institution is the Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA), the country’s supreme auditing institution (SAI) responsible for reporting to parliament. A new Law on the TCA (Law No. 6085) took effect in 2011. Previously, its core activities had been to identify and investigate potential public losses. Now, its mandate includes conducting financial audits, auditing for performance and producing other necessary reports.
As members of a venerable institution tracing its history back to 1862, some TCA staff were reluctant to learn new skills or adapt their ways of working. Yet, there were those who were determined to evolve and improve the institution. Workshops and trainings organized by World Bank technical assistance enabled the TCA to tap into international good practices and build capacity of its staff. Gradually it developed methodologies and pools of trained staff for its various new roles paving the way for more effective regulations.
The TCA is currently a member of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) and has signed up to fully comply with its standards. It has also been highly active in the in the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI); Economic Cooperation Organization Supreme Audit Institutions (ECOSAI) and the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI).
TCA staff have provided training to SAIs in Afghanistan, Albania, Kuwait, Moldova and Qatar, cooperated with the SAIs of Romania, Kosovo and Somalia, and advised the Chamber of Accounts of Azerbaijan. Improving TCA’s capacity has resulted in better financial management knowledge across a much wider part of the world.
The latest joint TCA-World Bank project, “Enhancing the Impact of the Turkish Court of Accounts on Good Public Governance Project” was conducted in 2019-2020. Through a series of study visits, consultancy services and training courses, it helped build the capacity of the institutions for emerging issues such as the auditing of debt, revenue and public-private-partnerships.
The project has also improved the TCA’s transparency and accountability. By overhauling the website and implementing a new social media strategy, TCA has made reports, informational videos, and news pieces about TCA activity more accessible through various social media channels. This has increased media coverage of the findings and has built trust with citizens.
There is still scope for the TCA to add to its competencies – more avenues for it to explore, from Sustainable Development Goals auditing, to engagement with stakeholders like civil society and academia. The more know-how the institution acquires, the better it will be at ensuring the accountability of public finances, and the greater the contribution it will make to keeping effective and transparent financial management on the agenda of the general public and other institutions. At the same time, the ripples will expand across the wider region increasingly nurturing good governance and all the benefits that come with it.
Read More about the Project in this Results Brief: