Publication: Audit Scotland international strategy 2024-28

by Audit Scotland

Audit Scotland international strategy 2024-28

Our vision is that public money is well spent to meet the needs of Scotland’s people.

We believe that being outward-facing and developing a culture of learning, innovation and continuous improvement will play a critical role in delivering this vision. Helping identify solutions to address the challenges public services in Scotland are currently facing as well as those we are facing as a national audit organisation.

This international strategy sets out how we will develop our international work. It covers the period 2024 to 2028 and builds on our previous strategy, which covered the period 2021 to 2024.

The nature of our international work has changed. New ways of working have made it possible to undertake international engagement without leaving Scotland. In delivering this strategy, we will ensure all our international activity is delivered efficiently and effectively and is underpinned by principles of value for money and sustainability.


Our strategy

Public audit in Scotland 2023-28 sets out our vision, mission and outcomes. Audit Scotland’s Corporate Plan 2023-28 sets out our strategic priorities and our values.


Public money is well spent to meet the needs of Scotland’s people.


Provide clear, independent and objective assurance on how effectively public money is being managed and spent.


  • Public services in Scotland work better together to target resources more effectively.
  • Financial planning and management are more effective across Scotland’s public services.
  • Public bodies deliver clearer and more transparent reporting.
  • Our recommendations have a positive impact for people in Scotland.

Strategic priorities

  • Timely and impactful annual audit.
  • Dynamic performance audit programme.
  • Enhanced audit approaches.
  • Developing our people and our business.
  • Insights driving innovation and improvement.


  • Equality
  • Independence
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Respect

Within our corporate plan we note how public audit can be a positive catalyst for changes in public services, and to driving improvement and innovation in the audit profession. Through our international work, we will be responsive, innovative and ambitious, using it to inform both our audit work and how we develop and improve Audit Scotland.

Our international strategy will play a key role in helping deliver our Insights driving innovation and improvement strategic priority, including:

  • Horizon scanning: Exploring what the future might look like to understand uncertainties, consider the impact of these on our work and systematically investigating evidence about future trends.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Developing international relationships to share our thinking, listen and learn, and gather ideas and feedback to fuel innovation and inform future planning.
  • Public audit system leadership: Exploring the future direction of scrutiny, making external connections to lead the public audit system in Scotland and influence future audit approaches. We want to innovate and support to elevate our people, our organisation and public audit, improve quality and grow our reputation.

It will also play a key role in developing a culture for innovation, supporting us to learn, share ideas and think differently and be proactive in changing what we do and how we do it.

International stakeholder landscape

Our international work gives us the opportunity to influence and learn across a wide range of developments and challenges facing the global audit and accounting profession, including the changing regulatory landscape, the future auditor skillset, the volume and use of data and new technologies, and changes to climate change and sustainability reporting.

We recognise that Audit Scotland is not a supreme audit institution (SAI) and for many international bodies, membership and engagement is limited to SAIs. While we will build relationships with international stakeholders where appropriate, we will continue to foster relationships through the UK Public Audit Forum (PAF), with the National Audit Office (NAO), Audit Wales and the Northern Ireland Audit Office. The NAO is the SAI for the UK and our engagement with the PAF is a key part of our international influence.

Table 1 sets out the stakeholder landscape for our international work.

Table 1: International stakeholder landscape
BodyRole and current engagement
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)CIPFA is an international accountancy membership and standard-setting body. Audit Scotland is represented on CIPFA's steering group for the development of a new international performance audit qualification.
European Organisation of Regional Audit Institutions (EURORAI)EURORAI is a cooperation project among public sector audit institutions in Europe. It provides an exchange of experiences and enables progress around public sector financial control and public finances. Audit Scotland is a member of EURORAI’s Management Committee.
International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)The IASB is an independent group of experts with experience setting accounting standards and in preparing, auditing, or using financial reports, and in accounting education. IASB members are responsible for the development and publication of IFRS Accounting Standards.
International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB)The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) sets international standards for auditing (ISAs), assurance, and quality management (ISQM) that strengthen public confidence in the global profession. We contribute to IAASB consultations directly as well as through our membership of the ICAS Auditing and Assurance Panel.
International Ethical Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA)The IESBA sets international ethical standards to drive ethical behaviour in business and organisations and to improving public trust in financial and non-financial information.
International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)IFAC represents the accountancy profession through advocacy, development, and support for its member organisations and professional accountants.
International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI)INTOSAI operates as an umbrella organisation for the external government audit community. Its main aim is to promote the exchange of ideas, knowledge and experience between its members. The European Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI) is one of the seven regional working groups of INTOSAI.
International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB)The IPSASB works to improve public sector financial reporting through the development of international accounting standards, for use by governments and other public sector entities around the world. Audit Scotland is represented on the group that meets the UK’s representative on IPSASB to discuss UK interests in IPSASB developments.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)The OECD is an international organisation that works to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. We engage with the OECD’s anti-corruption and integrity events, which support governments and organisations to strengthen integrity, build trust, and fight corruption.
Overseas audit agenciesThere are hundreds of audit agencies around the world, focused on scrutinising public spending and providing assurance, and promoting good governance, transparency and positive outcomes for citizens and communities. We engage with overseas audit agencies on areas of shared interest, ensuring this is in accordance with our principles and values.

Our principles and priorities for international work

Our principles

  • We emphasise the learning that can be gained from international engagement and we ensure it influences our planning and practice.
  • We develop relationships to share our thinking, listen and learn, and gather ideas and feedback to fuel innovation and inform future planning.
  • We explore what the future might look like to understand uncertainties and investigate evidence about future trends.
  • We are proactive and focused in directing our international engagement, primarily seeking opportunities to influence and inform our work in areas of strategic interest.
  • We are efficient and effective in our international engagement and aim to deliver value for money and sustainability by taking the default position to participate in international work remotely.
  • We actively consider our ethical position and follow advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office before deciding to engage internationally.

Our priorities

We want to play a lead role in the global public audit system and will aim to build our profile and reputation internationally by developing a network of contacts within international audit institutions. We will draw on this network to deliver our priorities for our international work between 2024 to 2028, which are as follows:

  • Learning to inform our work – We will gather expertise and good practice in targeted areas to inform our work, aligned to key priorities in our corporate plan. We will actively share learning widely within Audit Scotland to ensure colleagues benefit.
  • Sharing our expertise – We will contribute to good public governance in other countries by sharing our expertise and practice internationally and seeking to influence international auditing and quality standards.

Our areas of strategic interest

We want to use our international work to proactively seek opportunities to inform what we do. This includes seeking out international engagement to inform areas of strategic interest. Table 2 summarises our key areas of strategic interest. We will identify specific actions through our operational planning process, which drives our Audit Scotland Business Plan.

We will maintain our awareness of audit work on areas of strategic interest by monitoring audit databases hosted by the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation (CAAF) and INTOSAI. These databases provide access to audit reports and learning and development materials. We will also share relevant reports we publish through these channels.

Table 2: Areas of strategic interest for international work
Strategic interestAreas to explore
Audit modernisation

Globally audit institutions are under pressure to deliver audits more efficiently and effectively, to ensure audit remains affordable for audited bodies and adds value. We will engage internationally to:

  • understand the risks and opportunities that advancing technologies bring for us as an audit institution and for the bodies we audit.
  • understand the changing skill set required for our organisation to assess risks and take advantage of opportunities related to technological change.
  • support us to enhance our audit methodology and be a sector leader in technology and new audit approaches.
Climate change

Through our engagement with the UK’s representative on the IPSASB we aim to gain insight into the work of its Sustainability Steering Committee, which is considering the disclosure of information relating to sustainability and climate change.

We will engage with IAASB and access its webinars and forums to understand developments relating to auditing sustainability and climate-related disclosures.

Through our membership of EUROAI we will take opportunities to share our approach to auditing climate change and build our network of European audit agencies leading on climate change audits. We will also engage with the National Audit Office to explore how we can best link into the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing network.

Equalities and human rightsThrough our audit work we look at how inequalities impact on different groups in society and help ensure public bodies address inequalities and protect human rights. There are significant legal developments planned in Scotland in the context of human rights. Our international engagement will focus on sharing and learning about the audit and scrutiny implications of incorporating international human rights treaties and standards into domestic law.
Future of performance audit

We recognise that approaches to performance audit are constantly evolving and will engage in international work that builds capacity and shares learning in areas such as:

  • ‘Real-time’ auditing.
  • Embedding lived-experience into audit work, including citizen auditors and direct service-user involvement in audit teams.
  • Auditing and reporting on outcomes.
  • Making reform and transformation more central to performance audit work.
  • Making data more central to our work, both in terms of how public bodies are using it and how we select topics for investigation.
  • Different and innovative ways of reporting audit findings.
  • Measuring our impact and delivering on public audit outcomes.
International standard setting

We will nurture and develop relationships with key bodies such as the IAASB and the IPSASB to influence international auditing and quality standards and how they are applied to UK public audit work.

We will work with standard setters where appropriate to develop the public audit profession, including developing qualifications and learning and development opportunities.

Monitoring and reporting on our international work

We will monitor our international activity on a six-monthly basis in line with our principles, priorities and areas of strategic interest. We will report on our international activity annually in our Annual Report and Accounts.