There are reasons why the Audit Commission deserves full support from other government departments and the wider public. Even though its work often involves open criticism and may not be well received by those concerned, it is carried out for the sake of enhancing accountability and governance. That is why its leadership requires Beijing’s approval and its operation is backed by the Basic Law. It is therefore regrettable that the Immigration Department hit back in the wake of the commission’s latest value-for-money report regarding enforcement in fake marriages. One case in question, among thousands pending further investigation, concerned a suspect who was pursued by the authorities for years, but to no avail, and was later found dead. The watchdog said the department should review the case and draw lessons from it when pursuing other suspects. But in a rare statement issued late last Wednesday night, the department said cases were handled according to their circumstances. It expressed regret that the “indiscriminate criticisms made by those who do not understand the processes of criminal investigation” had seriously damaged its professional image. The dispute raises questions over communications between the auditor and the department. Given the auditing process usually involves numerous exchanges over a long time, any disagreement or misunderstanding should have been cleared up before the report was tabled at the Legislative Council. In any case, such a response ahead of the legislature’s deliberations was a breach of protocol. The row prompted the Security Bureau to weigh in and remind the department that it should have waited until Legco followed up the report. War of words breaks out between watchdog, Immigration Department over report The commission has rich experience in reviewinga wide range of departments and enjoys a reputation for being both meticulous and professional. Through its uncharacteristic response, the Immigration Department may have given the impression it was being uncooperative. At stake is not just the image of the department and the government as a whole, but also the exercise of the commission’s statutory functions for the good of governance and accountability.