What it is, what it does and how it acts

What it is

The Public Audit Office for Catalonia (Sindicatura de Comptes de Catalunya) is the external audit institution that audits the accounts, the accounting management, and the financial controls of Catalonia's public sector, which is defined by law as including:

  • The Catalan Government (Generalitat) administration and its subsidiary agencies and entities.
  • The local authorities of Catalonia and their subsidiary agencies and entities.
  • Subsidiary entities that are majority owned or funded, directly or indirectly, by the Catalan Government or Catalonia’s local authorities.
  • Catalonia’s public universities.
  • Other entities as determined by laws enacted by the Parliament of Catalonia.

The Public Audit Office also has statutory powers to audit the accounts of electoral processes whose scope is limited to Catalonia, in other words, elections to the Catalan Parliament and the Aran General Council.

The Public Audit Office is an institution envisaged in Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy (articles 80 and 81) and its functions are regulated by the Public Audit Office of Catalonia Act (Act 18/2010, of 7 June).

It reports to the Catalan Parliament and exercises its powers, as delegated by Parliament, with full organisational, operational and budgetary autonomy.

What it does

Public audit reports

The main function of the Public Audit Office consists in reviewing the accounts of revenues and expenditures of Catalonia’s public sector, in order to determine their reliability and also the regularity, legality and effectiveness of operations carried out.

The Audit Office’s public sector auditing work involves drawing up audit reports, which are sent to the Parliament of Catalonia and the organisations audited. The reports must contain the findings and recommendations resulting from the scrutiny of the monetary and financial activities subject to audit, in accordance with public sector auditing techniques and procedures. When the Audit Office Board, as a result of the audit work undertaken, detects the existence of practices actionable through administrative or judicial proceedings, this must be stated in the report and the information regarding these practices passed on to the appropriate authority. Parliament and the auditee entity must also be informed.

By law, the Public Audit Office must draw up each year its report on the General Account of the Government of Catalonia and its report on local authorities’ general accounts. The Audit Office also issues audit reports on public sector entities belonging to the Catalan Government and to local government. All the reports drawn up by the Audit Office are included in its Annual Programme of Activities, which it has to send to Parliament each year, giving a list of the reports it plans to produce during the following year.

Another function of the Public Audit Office is to serve parliamentary organs in an advisory capacity. At the behest of the Parliament of Catalonia the Audit Office can provide advice, issue pronouncements and answer the queries it receives on matters relating to public sector accounting and financial management.

The Catalan Public Audit Office may act on behalf of the Spanish Court of Audit (Tribunal de Cuentas), if the latter delegates preliminary investigations to establish accounting liability (responsabilidad contable), by taking charge of the corresponding proceedings. These proceedings are to determine the existence of cases of non-compliance where those responsible for handling public moneys or effects, through wrongdoing or gross negligence and in breach of laws or regulations, have caused a government organisation to incur a definite, quantifiable monetary loss. When these preliminary proceedings have been completed, the Catalan Public Audit Office forwards them to the Spanish Court of Audit, as the body with jurisdiction for trying cases of accounting liability.

In accordance with article 80.3 of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy, the relationship of cooperation between the Catalan Public Audit Office and the Spanish Court of Audit has to be regulated through a cooperation agreement, which must describe the mechanisms whereby the Catalan Audit Office participates in the jurisdictional proceedings relating to accounting liability.

How it acts

The Public Audit Office, in exercising the audit function it has been assigned, acts under legal requirement, at the request of Parliament or ex officio (at its own initiative).

Article 33 of the Public Audit Office’s Internal Regulations specifies that the Audit Office Board has to approve a multi-year activity framework, which should include a plan for the next three years of the criteria for choosing and defining the scope of its audit reports, which it must then take into account when drawing up its annual programmes of activities.

In accordance with article 37 of the Public Audit Office Act (Act 18/2010, of 7 June), the Audit Office Board must approve and send to Parliament an Annual Programme of Activities detailing the reports it plans to undertake the following year.