Brazil’s supreme audit institution (SAI), the Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU), has a distinctive mandate to shape the underpinnings of good governance. TCU is responsible for examining public accounts to hold officials accountable, and its performance audits and evaluations have a direct bearing on the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of government. In this role, TCU is a critical inducer of change in the Brazilian government towards better governance in a complex and fluid policy environment.

The objective evidence, recommendations and advice that are a result of TCU’s work are critical inputs for informed policy making, more effective programme implementation, and ultimately, better outcomes for citizens. This role is crucial given the governance challenges Brazil currently faces. Brazil’s tax revenue and public expenditure are high amongst Latin American and Caribbean and OECD member countries. Nonetheless, low trust and satisfaction among citizens, fanned by corruption scandals and under-performing programmes, signals the need for a greater understanding about underlying problems and opportunities for improvement. TCU, as a purveyor of insight and foresight into the root of challenges and potential solutions, can play a vital role in improving how government works to restore citizens’ trust.

This report advances the premise that successful policy outcomes depend on not only effective implementation, but also on the policy-making process itself to ensure the coherence, sustainability and long-term vision of the public sector. The report draws from OECD and TCU’s collaboration on the role of SAIs in contributing to good governance, culminating in the flagship publication, “Supreme Audit Institutions and Good Governance: Oversight, Insight and Foresight,” which demonstrates how SAIs can more effectively contribute to good governance across the policy cycle. This report assesses how TCU can leverage its unique and horizontal view to induce changes in how policies are designed, implemented and evaluated.

To do so effectively requires TCU to orient aspects of its work towards understanding how the Centre of Government (CoG) – central entities in the executive branch responsible for policy making – can more effectively foster coherence, efficiency and standardisation across government. For instance, TCU could identify areas of fragmentation, overlap and duplication of programmes that can lead to waste and inefficiency across government. It could also employ its horizontal perspective to strengthen long-term planning, sustainable budgeting and evaluation of national goals, including improved co-ordination of key actors.

Elaborating on this concept, the report focuses on four key governance functions that are critical to both the design and execution of policies that can improve the fiscal, economic, social and environmental conditions within Brazil, namely: 1) mechanisms for policy coherence, 2) strategic and sustainable budgeting, 3) effective internal control and risk management and 3) meaningful evaluation that leads to improvements in policies and programmes.

The Executive Branch takes the lead on these functions in both design and implementation. Yet, TCU can take steps to ensure that its audit and advisory work offer sound evidence and insights to strengthen governance processes.