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Practice Guide to Auditing Oversight

Conducting the Examination Phase

Conducting the Examination Phase

During the examination phase of a performance audit, audit teams must conduct procedures that will yield sufficient appropriate evidence to:

  • determine whether audit criteria are met,
  • conclude on audit objectives, and
  • document and support these conclusions.

Audit conclusions can be based on one or more types of evidence, including:

Table 14 provides specific examples of evidence in each category. Each type of evidence can be useful in an audit of oversight but, in practice, documentary and testimonial evidence tend to constitute the main sources of evidence for audits that focus on the roles and responsibilities of oversight bodies.

Table 14 – Examples of Evidence Sources for Audits of Oversight


  • Minutes of board meetings and committee meetings, records of decisions, agendas, board attendance records
  • Information packages prepared by management for board and committee meetings
  • Committee debriefs to boards of directors
  • Legal mandates, charters, terms of reference, bylaws, board policies, code of ethics
  • Strategic plans
  • Board-approved delegated authorities
  • Correspondence with government officials, correspondence between board and management
  • Training material prepared for board members
  • Board profile, skills matrix, succession plans
  • Board self-assessments and surveys
  • Performance reports
  • Report cards, monitoring reports, risk management reports
  • Internal and external audit reports, evaluation reports, investigation reports, inspection reports, independent reports by third parties (think tanks, non-profit organizations, and so on)
  • Major initiative business case, including baseline data and expected benefits, and related timelines and targets.


  • Interviews with chair of the board, board members, committee members, and senior management
  • Assertions (written testimony) by board members or senior management
  • Interviews with the minister or other elected officials
  • Interviews with stakeholders


  • Observing board meetings
  • Observing committee meetings relevant to audit purpose


  • Benchmarking against best practices or against similar organizations/major initiatives
  • Surveys (if auditing multiple organizations)

Using documentary and testimonial evidence to support audit observations on oversight and to reach an audit level of assurance is sometimes relatively straightforward. However, when it comes to questions related to an oversight body’s effectiveness or dynamics, there may be limited documentary evidence available and obtaining sufficient and appropriate evidence may therefore represent a challenge.

The remainder of this section briefly discusses the value, limitations, and potential challenges of each type of evidence that can be used to support conclusions in an audit of oversight. These reflect in large part the experience of practitioners who have audited oversight. Auditing and assurance standards and associated guidance materials may also be consulted by auditors for additional information.