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October 2, 2020
CAAF Teams Up with SageTea, the University of New Brunswick, and Lockheed Martin to Develop New AI Tools

The Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation is happy to announce that SageTea Software and the University of New Brunswick have signed a 3-year collaboration agreement, funded by the Lockheed Martin Cybersecurity Research Fund, to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) solution that will have root cause analysis (RCA) capabilities. CAAF will also support this project by contributing its RCA and performance audit expertise.

The convergence of AI and RCA is a field ripe for technological advances. This new project will seek to advance knowledge in this field by developing AI tools that could assist in the conduct of root cause analysis. This capability will rely on powerful data mining tools to extract causal chains and relationships from unstructured and semi-structured databases and documents. Ultimately, the new AI tools could change the way public sector analysts and auditors conduct their work.

The project team will be led by Dr. Arash Lashkari, one of Canada’s premier cybersecurity experts, and David Long, CEO of SageTea Software. Yves Genest, Vice-President for Products and Services at CAAF, will lead the Foundation’s contribution to this research effort. CAAF will appraise its members regularly on its efforts to support this landmark project.

Through this project, CAAF and SageTea will be continuing a collaboration that started two years ago. CAAF has been interested in RCA and AI for several years and welcomed the opportunity to work with Sagetea at the intersection between these two fields. This work has involved developing conceptual solutions and advancing the knowledge of the use of Deep Learning capabilities. We have presented the results of these efforts in 2019 at the Canadian Conference on Audit, Governance and Security (CCITAGS) and the Pacific Northwest Intergovernmental Audit Forum (PNIAF) (see the presentation here).

CAAF has also published previously on artificial intelligence and audit. In the Research Highlights article Artificial Intelligence and Auditing: Overview of Potential Impact on Public Sector Auditors, we explored how AI is revolutionizing the audit profession by expanding the range, efficiency, and extent of audit evidence collection and analysis. We described the main applications of AI to auditing as well as the opportunities and challenges that AI presents for public sector auditors.

Finally, CAAF has conducted extensive work on root cause analysis and recently published the second edition of its Discussion Paper on the topic: Better Integrating Root Cause Analysis into Public Sector Performance Auditing. We have also developed a ground-breaking course for internal auditors and performance auditors on the use of root cause analysis (this course is now available in a virtual classroom format).