SIGMA - Support for Improvement in Governance and Management in Central and Eastern European Countries - is a joint initiative of the European Union and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), principally financed by the European Union's PHARE Programme. The Programme - established in 1992 - provides support to partner countries in their efforts to modernise public governance systems.
Throughout its work, the initiative places a high priority on facilitating co-operation among governments. This practice includes providing logistical support to the formation of networks of public administration practitioners, including officials of Supreme Audit Institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as between these practitioners and their counterparts in other democracies.
Professional relations of SIGMA and the State Audit Office of Hungary (SAO) have become especially intensive when Hungary was preparing for EU accession. SIGMA carried out professional reviews - so-called baseline assessments - between 1999 and 2003. These reviews were to analyse the SAO's regulatory background, examine the completeness of its internal methodological documents, and to assess its audit methods and practices. SIGMA also offered its expertise to strengthen the modernisation efforts of the SAO, as well as assisted the organisation in its preparation for meeting EU requirements in the field of external auditing.
There has been active cooperation established with SIGMA within the framework of the network of the national Supreme Audit Institutions of Central and Eastern European Countries - including Hungary - as well. SIGMA made considerable efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the working and expert groups of the network through providing professional advice and technical assistance. Amongst these working and expert groups it is worth to mention the Working Group on Audit Manuals and Methods, the Joint Working Group on Audit Activities, the Expert Group on Audit Quality. The participation in the activities of these forums has significantly enhanced the development of the State Audit Office of Hungary in terms of audit profession.