When auditors begin a performance audit, they need to quickly acquire extensive knowledge of the topic, program, policy, initiative, activity or organization that they have been tasked to audit. Similar audits from other jurisdictions can be an excellent place to start. The Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation has developed a premier tool for performance audit professionals, the Audit News database, that provides access to over 10,000 performance audits and other documents published by more than 75 audit and other institutions in Canada and abroad. Updated continuously, it is one of the most comprehensive databases of public sector audits. Audit News can improve your audits in the following ways:
Dramatically reduce your research time
Most public sector audit reports are made available on the internet but tracking them down requires knowing the name of the audit organization, entering the right keywords, sorting the broken links and dealing with the idiosyncrasies of the Google algorithm. Compiling and sorting the results could also be tedious. Audit News regroups all the search results in one convenient location. Research that would take auditors hours to identify, imperfectly, relevant audit reports could be completed accurately in a few minutes with Audit News.
Determine how prevalent your audit topic is in other jurisdictions
Has your topic been audited before? Was it more popular five years ago and now the interest is declining? Or is it trending upward? This information is a factor that can be considered when deciding whether to conduct an audit. Audit News is the best tool to assess at a glance how frequently or rarely your topic has been tackled by other jurisdictions. This makes Audit News an excellent tool not only to plan your audit, but to build and validate your annual or long-term audit plan.
Compare the various ways of scoping your audit topic and formulating your audit objectives
A key factor determining the success of a performance audit lies in the scoping decisions taken by the audit team. In the public sector, the programs audited are frequently complex, cover multiple regions or areas and combine many delivery mechanisms. To maximise the impact of the audit while using audit resources efficiently, scoping decisions are crucial. By using Audit News to review how other audit organizations have achieved this balance, audit teams can make more judicious decisions and craft scope and audit objectives that will maximise the value of their audit.
Find established and recognized criteria for your audit
Auditors need a way to assess whether an entity’s performance in the areas subject to audit meets the audit objective. To do this, they must base their audit on suitable criteria—the standards of performance and control against which auditors assess performance. The suitability of a criteria is context-sensitive and depends on how it is developed and adapted from credible and reliable sources. By using Audit News, auditors can identify audits that have addressed this challenge, and use them to adopt suitable criteria for their audits.
Identify proven evidence gathering strategies
Ultimately, a successful audit rests on the quantity and quality of the evidence supporting its findings. Interviews and document reviews are important, but with the proliferation of digitalized information produced and required by government programs, it is becoming imperative for auditors to leverage this information. However, data analytics strategies are complex and picking the right one could be challenging. Audit News is a good way of identifying creative and innovative data-gathering methods that work for your audit topic.
Compare your findings, conclusions and recommendations against similar audits
No jurisdiction is the same. Programs vary both in conception and implementation. Moreover, audits could also greatly differ in the way they are planned and conducted. All these factors affect the audit findings. However, it is always useful to examine and compare findings from many audits of similar programs. Are there common design flaws, implementation issues or accountability failures? Comparing your own audit results with others by using Audit News can help validate them.
Identify Effective Reporting Strategies
Communicating audit results effectively is essential to ensure that an audit report is understood and accepted by management, used by legislators and of interest to citizens. By using Audit News to look up audit reports conducted on your audit topic, you can be inspired by tables, diagrams, graphics, flow charts, appendices and innovative ways to summarize and communicate complex qualitative and quantitative information.
As you can see, Audit News is a useful tool for planning, conducting and reporting audits. By leveraging the collective wisdom and experience of the performance audit community in Canada and abroad with Audit News, auditors can increase the efficiency and quality of their audits.
If you are already a CAAF member, the Audit News database is part of your benefits—simply login to use it. If you are not a member and want to start exploring Audit News, a demo version is available. Consider joining us as an individual or institutional member to have access to the full value of a CAAF membership. You can also consult the products derived from the Audit News database such as our Performance Audit Guidance Inventory, our Focus On series and our Featured Audits.
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