The nature and practice of financial management and audit in the Sudanese public sector.
The Sudan is currently undertaking a series of National Economic Salvation Programmes
designed to arrest the decline in the Sudanese economy and to provide the basis of future
economic growth and stability. Given the overwhelming importance of the public sector to the
Sudanese economy, it is clear that financial management and audit in the public sector has an
important role to play if these programmes are to be successful. Without appropriate financial
management systems and controls underlying their operation, it is unlikely that the new
policies and institutional reforms envisaged within these programmes will be successful in
achieving their proposed goals and objectives. The raison d'etre of this study is then the
investigation of the role of financial management and audit in the public sector in the Sudan
with a particular focus on the potential for change offered by the adoption of practices of
accountability and control found in more developed countries. The underlying thesis is that
essentially it is the culture, political history, administrative, commercial and political
environment of the Sudan which are the factors primarily responsible for the lack of
effectiveness of the financial management and control systems in the Sudan.
The early part of this study is largely contextual in nature. The role played by financial
management and audit in developed countries today is examined and various mechanisms of
accountability discussed. In that Sudan is a developing country and one which has been
subject to rapid political change and upheaval since independence was achieved more than 40
years ago, the economic and political landscape of the Sudan is explored in some detail. It is
argued that it is only against this turbulent economic and political background that the present
role of public sector financial management and audit in the Sudan can be explained and the
potential for change identified.
Later chapters comprise a detailed investigation and examination of the present systems of
budgeting and financial accountability within the Sudanese public sector and of the present
role and modus operandi of internal audit and of external audit conducted through the Auditor
General's Chamber. These sections are further informed by both a questionnaire study and
analysis of a series of interviews with senior officials in the Sudanese public sector
A recurring theme throughout these chapters is the major disparity between the theoretical
systems of budgeting, accountability and audit as laid down by regulations and statute and the
actuality of practice. In consequence, the systems of controlling and safeguarding public funds
in the Sudan are extensively flawed. Perhaps an inevitable result of the weakness and
inadequacy of these control systems has been the continuation and growth of fraud, corruption,
misuse of government property, and financial irregularity within the Sudanese public sector. A
further chapter specifically focuses on the nature and extent of fraud and corruption within the
Sudanese public sector. This highlights the manner whereby it has become institutionalised
within the economic and social framework and is thereby likely to prove extremely difficult to
eradicate. It also suggests that caution should be exercised in advocating rapid transition to
mechanisms and forms of accountability and control found in more developed countries.
Problems inherent in such a transition are exemplified by the comparative lack of success in
developing an effective public sector internal audit function on the basis of government fiat.
The study concludes by highlighting its main findings and identifying a number of areas in
which change and reform might be considered if public sector financial management and audit
is indeed to facilitate and contribute to the regeneration of the Sudanese economy.