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The effectiveness of performance audits in Bangladesh: A critical examination of medical waste management

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posted on 2023-08-07, 00:52 authored by Md A K Azad KhanMd A K Azad Khan
This study examines the performance audit (PA) system in Bangladesh, focusing on the role of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (OCAG), the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of Bangladesh, and the Public Account Committee (PAC) to assess the institutional effectiveness that is required for ensuring accountability and transparency in the public audit system. The PA is a modern audit strategy designed to assess whether government operations, programs, and activities operate economically, efficiently, and effectively. In Bangladesh, PAs are carried out by the OCAG. The primary aim of the current study was to identify the factors influencing the effectiveness, or more precisely, the ineffectiveness, of the PA process in Bangladesh, using medical waste management as a case for critical examination. The study sought input from the three main actor groups - auditors, audited entities, and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) members. The study adopted semi-structured interviews and document analysis to gather relevant data. These techniques complemented each other in gathering accurate data to satisfy the research objectives and questions. Documents from key regulatory institutions were analysed to identify the issues relevant to PA management in Bangladesh. A qualitative research design was developed to explore the perceptions of the auditors, auditees, and PAC members to illustrate the challenges faced by the OCAG in fulfilling their duty. A total of 30 participants were interviewed via Zoom and telephone with the permission of the CQ University Ethics Committee. The findings reveal several reasons why PAs in Bangladesh have not achieved what they were initially set to achieve. Experienced and well-qualified staff are required to implement an effective PA regime successfully. The study revealed that all the auditors who participated in the current study did not have a clear idea about the objectives and the aims of the OCAG and its relationship with audited organisations. In most instances, it is apparent that auditees do not welcome performance auditors. If fact, many auditees felt threatened because they did not understand the purpose of a PA. Consequently, the audit team was unwilling to provide information and support in their statutory duties. Audit team members are often treated with suspicion, and many auditees feel that PAs infringe upon their administrative authority. To successfully perform the duties of an auditor, auditors need to be able to access data. The study found that lacking reliable data is common in Bangladeshi public sector organisations. In most cases, the maintenance of records in public sector organisations is poor. The unavailability of records in auditees makes staff reluctant to cooperate with the audit team. Without insufficient and relevant evidence, auditors cannot express an objective opinion on the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness related to programs implemented by government agencies. In the context of Bangladesh, and in addition to the issues noted above, underlying challenges, such as corruption, poverty, poor governance, and weak infrastructure facilities, are barriers to gaining the benefits of an effective PA. The PAC is the legislative body that holds the executive departments accountable; however, the study found that the system has several hurdles. The PAC is the highest accountability monitoring body in Bangladesh and usually comprises politicians, most of whom are not conversant with the technical work performed by auditors. Very few PAs working papers and findings were reviewed by the PAC. For example, the PAC is not constituted on time after an elected government comes into office, meetings are infrequent, and a Ministry's appearance before the PAC to respond to audit queries can often occur several months or even years after their initial invitation and when they finally appear the PAC may not be able to recall the question(s) initially asked of the minister or government representative. In the case of the effectiveness of PA practices in Bangladesh, the auditors are neither well-trained nor capable, the auditees have little interest in cooperating or responding to the demands of auditors, and the PAC members are disinclined to pursue the recommendations contained in the audit reports. The OCAG is functionally ineffective at the operational level. It is apparent that substantial reform within the OCAG is required.


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Central Queensland University

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor Quamrul Alam ; Doctor Robert Grose

Thesis Type

  • Master's by Research Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By creative work