Commission on Audit (COA) Philippines

Ever wondered how the Commission on Audit (COA) serves the interests of Filipinos? Well, it might not be quite so obvious, but did you know that many of the national policies and programs are rigorously audited and reviewed by COA to ensure that the hard-earned money you send back home is allocated and spent as intended?

This vigilance helps safeguard your contributions to the nation’s development and ensures that the government support meant to reach you and your families does so efficiently and effectively. It’s a vital process, often unseen, that upholds the integrity and trust in the systems designed to serve you, wherever in the world you might be. So, if you’re ready to take a look at how the COA extends its services across all branches of the government, read on.

Credits: PNA

What is the Commission on Audit?

COA has its origins in the American colonial period, starting in 1899 as the Office of the Auditor.

  • It underwent several transformations, becoming the Bureau of Insular Auditors in 1900, the Bureau of Audits in 1905, and later the General Auditing Office (GAO) under the 1935 Constitution.
  • The 1973 Constitution expanded its powers, transitioning it to COA, with the 1987 Constitution cementing its status as an independent constitutional body.
  • This means that the COA, as established in 1973 and reinforced by the 1987 Constitution, isn’t just an office but a powerful entity with expanded authority and autonomy.
  • Its status as an independent constitutional body ensures that it operates without undue influence, focusing solely on safeguarding public funds, promoting efficient government spending, and maintaining the highest level of accountability.
  • This autonomy is crucial for its role in upholding transparency and integrity in the government’s financial affairs.

Under Article IX, Section B of the 1987 Constitution, COA is the supreme auditor of the Philippines, tasked with examining, auditing, and settling all government accounts.

Its mission extends beyond financial scrutiny to ensuring accountability and transparency.

COA issues reports and recommendations to correct irregularities, holding officials responsible for public fund misuse.

Its commissioners, appointed by the President, are protected by seven-year tenures to maintain impartiality and independence.

COA logo
logo of Commission on Audit Philippines

Functions and Powers

COA stands as the guardian of the Philippines’ fiscal integrity, playing a pivotal role in promoting transparency, accountability, and efficient resource utilization within the government.

Its comprehensive mandate covers everything from the audit of government revenues and expenditures to the safeguarding of public properties. Let’s delve into the detailed functions and special audits that underscore COA’s vital mission.

Overview of COA’s Responsibilities

Auditing Government Revenues, Expenditures, and Properties: COA’s foremost responsibility is the meticulous examination of all financial activities across government bodies. This extensive auditing includes:

  • Revenues: COA verifies the accuracy and completeness of all government income, ensuring that tax collections, fees, and other revenues are properly accounted for and recorded.
  • Expenditures: COA scrutinizes every aspect of government spending. From purchase orders and contracts to payments made by various agencies, it ensures that public funds are spent appropriately and in accordance with budgetary allocations.
  • Properties: The commission also conducts property audits to check the existence, utilization, and maintenance of government assets, safeguarding them against loss, misuse, or wastage.

Promulgating Accounting and Auditing Rules and Regulations: COA doesn’t just audit; it sets the standards. By establishing and enforcing rules for government accounting and financial reporting, COA ensures that every financial transaction is transparent and consistent with national and international standards.

Issuing Audit Reports: Regular reports from COA provide valuable insights into the government’s financial health. These reports, submitted to the President and Congress, highlight significant audit findings, offer recommendations for improvement, and sometimes expose instances of financial mismanagement.

Settling Disputed Accounts: COA also acts as an adjudicator in financial disputes within the government, resolving issues related to financial transactions, reviewing appeals, and issuing decisive rulings.

Special Audits

COA employs a variety of auditing techniques to fulfill its complex mandate:

  • Financial Audits: These are conducted to assess the accuracy and reliability of financial statements, ensuring they are in line with established accounting principles and regulatory requirements.
  • Compliance Audits: These audits check whether government entities are adhering to laws, rules, and policies governing their financial activities.
  • Performance Audits: Perhaps the most dynamic, these audits evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of government programs and activities, pinpointing opportunities for improvement and potential cost savings.
  • Investigative Audits: Triggered by suspicions of fraud, misuse, or other irregularities, these audits are forensic inquiries into specific concerns or allegations.

Through these diverse functions and specialized audits, COA plays an indispensable role in maintaining fiscal discipline and preventing corruption within the public sector. Its rigorous scrutiny ensures that public funds are used responsibly and effectively, contributing to the nation’s economic stability and development. In a world where fiscal responsibility is paramount, COA’s work is not just a bureaucratic necessity but a cornerstone of good governance and public trust.

The Audit Process Explained

COA) is a pillar of integrity and transparency in the Philippines, meticulously scrutinizing the use of public funds to ensure accountability. Here’s an in-depth look at the audit process, from the initial planning stages to the final reporting, and the significant impact of these reports on public trust and governance.

Planning & Engagement

  1. Risk Assessment: The process begins with a thorough risk assessment. COA identifies areas with a higher risk of misuse based on factors such as complexity, previous issues, and public input. This step ensures that efforts are focused where they’re most needed.
  2. Engagement Planning: A specialized audit team is formed, taking into account the necessary expertise and workload. The team crafts an Engagement Planning Memorandum (EPM) that details the scope, objectives, and methodology of the impending audit.
  3. Preliminary Meetings: COA engages in preliminary discussions with agency officials to outline the audit’s scope, timeframe, and the types of information required. This step sets the stage for a cooperative and transparent audit process.

Examination & Evaluation

  1. Internal Control Evaluation: Evaluating an agency’s internal controls is crucial. COA examines systems meant to safeguard assets, ensure accurate record-keeping, and prevent fraud. This assessment helps identify areas prone to errors or misuse.
  2. Substantive Procedures: The team conducts specific tests on transactions, records, and systems to confirm their accuracy, completeness, and adherence to rules and regulations. This rigorous examination is essential for verifying the integrity of financial information.
  3. Data Analysis: The information collected is analyzed meticulously. COA looks for irregularities, discrepancies, or signs of non-compliance that could indicate deeper issues within the agency’s financial practices.


  1. Draft Audit Report: Based on the examination, a draft report is prepared. It documents the findings, observations, conclusions, and recommendations for improvement. This draft is a comprehensive reflection of the audit’s results.
  2. Management Response: The audited agency is given a chance to review the draft report and provide a written response. This response typically addresses the findings and outlines proposed corrective actions.
  3. Final Audit Report: After considering the agency’s feedback, COA finalizes the audit report. It’s then issued to the agency, relevant government bodies, and made available to the public, upholding transparency.
  4. Exit Conference: COA conducts a meeting with agency officials to discuss the final report. This conference is crucial for emphasizing the importance of implementing the audit’s recommendations.


  1. Follow-up: COA doesn’t just stop at reporting. It actively monitors the agency’s progress in addressing the findings and implementing the recommended changes. This ensures that the audit has a lasting impact.

Significance of Reporting:

  • Promoting Transparency and Accountability: Making audit reports public enhances awareness and deters the misuse of funds. It’s a powerful tool for fostering an informed and vigilant citizenry.
  • Strengthening Internal Controls: Recommendations from COA are not just criticisms but are valuable insights that agencies can use to fortify their financial management and control systems.
  • Holding Officials Accountable: When irregularities are found, COA’s reports can lead to sanctions or other actions against those responsible for mismanagement, ensuring that there are real consequences for misuse.
  • Informing Policy and Decision-Making: Beyond accountability, these reports provide critical data that can influence policy decisions and budget allocations, shaping the future of governance.

The COA’s audit process is a meticulous and comprehensive mechanism designed to ensure that every peso from the public coffers is accounted for and used effectively. While the procedures and timelines may vary based on the audit type and agency complexity, the essence of promoting a transparent, accountable government remains steadfast. This detailed process is not just about finding faults but is a testament to the commitment to upholding integrity and fostering trust in Philippine governance.

Video: Ano ang responsibilidad ng COA? | Need to Know

In his “Talk to the People” address, former President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the Commission on Audit (COA), once again raising the question of who audits the COA. He suggested that he might take on the task if he becomes Vice President in the future. This statement stems from COA’s reports highlighting deficiencies in the fund usage of various government agencies. Such criticisms have been addressed by COA in the past; they maintain that their role is to ensure the proper utilization of public funds. Understanding the responsibilities and the crucial role of COA is vital, as highlighted in the video discussed.

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