Accountability in the Ghanaian local governance structure: probing the role of external auditing

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The roles of external auditors have been under the spotlight due to the strategic positions they occupy to ensure accountability by public sector managers. This study examines the role of the external auditors in the accountability regime of the Ghanaian local governance structure. The study analyzed the annual reports of the Auditor General (AG) on all the metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies (MMDAs) in Ghana from 2010 to 2018 through a content analysis method. The analysis revealed that Ghanaian audit activities had mainly focused on internal control effectiveness, cash management, contract management, revenue management, expenditure management, payroll management, and procurement management. However, the study found that the focus of the external auditors kept expanding as the years progressed. The evidence showed that the auditors excluded performance audits in their scope of work. The findings of the study further revealed that the MMDAs had recurring, repetitive, and common audit queries, comprising cash; procurement and stores; contract and tax irregularities. Besides, the audit recommendations were in response to the specific audit queries on the various financial and operational irregularities. Based on the analysis, the study concludes that the external auditing in Ghana has marginally contributed to accountability in the MMDAs. The study recommends that the scope of the external audit should include performance auditing.

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    • Table 1. Summary of irregularities
    • Conceptualization
      Haruna Maama
    • Data curation
      Haruna Maama
    • Formal Analysis
      Haruna Maama, Ferina Marimuthu
    • Investigation
      Haruna Maama, Ferina Marimuthu
    • Methodology
      Haruna Maama
    • Project administration
      Haruna Maama, Ferina Marimuthu
    • Visualization
      Haruna Maama, Ferina Marimuthu
    • Writing – original draft
      Haruna Maama, Ferina Marimuthu
    • Writing – review & editing
      Haruna Maama, Ferina Marimuthu
    • Validation
      Ferina Marimuthu