Calling the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) a conscience keeper of the nation, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday urged the state auditor to provide outcome-based auditing and technology-driven foresights.
"Audit is not an end in itself. It is a means to make governments work better. Given this, I believe we have to emphasise outcomes as a more meaningful measure of programme value than output," he said at 29th Accountants General Conference on "Auditing and Accounting in a Digital Era" here.
Kovind said the CAG can deliberate on how it can identify, understand and measure outcomes to study the impact of programmes, and realign its strategies and techniques to report on performance appraisals in a way that facilitates measure of outcomes.
"You are not a mere keeper of national accounts but a conscience keeper to the nation and a key partner in India's progress," he said and added that the CAG with the breadth of its audit engagements across various levels of governance has the unique opportunity to see where things are going wrong and why.
Kovind said while the auditor has been providing valuable oversight on operations and giving recommendations to improve through its financial, compliance and performance audits, "it is time the institution thinks of giving insight and foresight as well".
Further, the President appreciated CAG for its data management policy and usage of data analytics in its audit work.
"Through the use of data analytic techniques you can assist in not only giving insights for the present but also aid in providing credible forecasts... You are rightly positioned to anticipate long-term trends and emerging issues related to the economy, education, health, environment and national security, among others," he said.
The President said there has been a massive decentralisation of funds, functions and functionaries in recent times with a number of welfare programmes being executed by state governments, urban local bodies and panchayats.
"However, it is a fact that accountability mechanisms at the local level are not as robust," he said and asked the CAG to partner with local citizens and state audit societies to train them, build capacities and issue advisories on reporting for audit.