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Annual reports

Major challenges that need to be tackled together

Director’s foreword

On 1 September 2022, I took up my post at the helm of the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO), the 13th Director in the 145-year history of the SFAO. Even though the tasks and the standing of the SFAO have changed over the years, one constant remains: the requirement to have an effective institution that monitors the federal budget and advocates for the cost-effective use of taxpayers’ money.

So our work is by no means a foregone conclusion.

As the highest financial monitoring body, in our audits we not only address problems but also highlight the potential for improvements. The aim is to foster the development of public administrations and to support Parliament and the Federal Council in the exercise of their functions.

This recipe for success needs the following ingredients: uncompromising objectivity and integrity, a high degree of professionalism, broad acceptance, a healthy dose of tenacity, a critical eye and the readiness to question our own behaviour and actions. We work constantly to refine this recipe, so that our work achieves optimum efficacy.

A robust recipe is not just necessary for the SFAO. The entire Federal Administration also needs it, to enable it to meet some major challenges. We examined some of these more closely during 2022 in our audits.

An unstable environment and exceptional situations place huge requirements on the SFAO and those being audited.

This became evident in the context of managing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Swift and pragmatic approaches and financial support measures from the federal government were necessary – to the tune of around CHF 40 billion to date. Even though Switzerland weathered the pandemic relatively well, our audits revealed that additional efforts will be needed in the next few years. Potential cases of abuse need to be dealt with and those responsible held to account. Abuse must not be rewarded!

The numerous complex IT projects hold both opportunities and risks, and require a heightened focus.

There are currently 19 DTI key projects pending, with an impressive volume of around CHF 6.5 billion and long schedules. These complex projects will replace existing systems and move the Federal Administration’s digital transformation forwards. Last year, the SFAO audited a number of these projects: the results show some successes but also a need for action in many areas, in order to bring these projects to fruition. The lacked of skilled employees is also a critical factor leading to delays and additional costs. Measures are needed to tackle this lack of skilled workers – and this is a topic that the SFAO will be including in its 2023 annual programme.

We are under a lot of time pressure to implement our new political funding-related tasks.

The Ordinance on Transparency in Political Funding was passed in August 2022. Since then, the SFAO has been the authority responsible for receiving, checking and publishing reports on the funding of votes and election campaigns. The new provisions will apply for the first time to the elections to the National Council and Council of States in 2023. The SFAO is now setting up an IT platform, clarifying various issues of interpretation and training the political players. It is a Herculean task, being done under severe time pressure, but we will be ready in autumn!

This and other demanding tasks will be with us for the next few years. With over 80 reports published in 2022, numerous media appearances and representation at committee meetings, we are committed to sharing our findings with our stakeholders and taking on the challenges together.

I would like to express my huge thanks to the SFAO staff, whose work and dedication shape the SFAO, and who tackle these challenges as part of their everyday workload. My thanks also go to my predecessors, whose efforts made the SFAO what it is today. In addition, I would like to thank the many internal and external partners who have supported the work of the SFAO and drive development forwards.

Annual report 2022

Press release

Appendice Annual report 2022 (Excel, German)


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