The Audit Process
How are programs selected for audit?
Annually, the County Auditor, decides upon an audit schedule for the year. The following criteria are considered when selecting audit areas:
- Potential savings or improvements
- Interest of Commissioners, County Administrator or public
- Evidence of problems
- Potential for loss or risk
- Time since last audit
- Quality of performance measures
- Auditor's Office resources
How is an audit conducted?
The County Administrator and the department director receive written notice of the audit start and an introductory meeting is scheduled with the management team. At the meeting, the County Auditor introduces his team, and explains the purpose, process and timeline of the audit. The auditors makes arrangements for access to information systems and key personnel. They also gain a general understanding of program areas and results, as well as any problems or concerns management may have.
Audits follow three basic phases: Survey, fieldwork, and reporting:
The survey phase of the audit is a general look at all the operation of the department or program. The audit team reviews all the available information about the program and the professional literature and conducts interviews with staff and others with knowledge about the operation and results of the program. Typically, the team meets with management initially, and later with staff directly involved with providing services. This is to gain a broad understanding of the program and proceed to a more complex understanding. Often the team will "ride along" with line staff to get a "hands-on" perspective.
During this phase, the auditors determine if there are areas that could benefit from in-depth analysis. At the end of survey, the auditors brief department management, describing their audit work, issues identified during the survey, and areas needing further audit work.
If significant issues have been identified during survey, the audit team will then begin more detailed information gathering. Auditors will focus their work to obtain an in-depth understanding of the issues. At the end of fieldwork, auditors meet again with department management to review results.
The audit report communicates the findings and recommendations. It is carefully prepared and information validated. Once this is completed, the Auditor provides a draft to department management and the County Administrator for their review. The auditors meet with managers to discuss the report to insure that the information is clear and accurate. The draft may be modified in response to the feedback and comments. The final report is a public document. It is posted on the website and presented to the Board of Commissioners. The County Administrator's formal written response is included in the final report, and the County Administrator is invited to join the County Auditor in presenting Commissioners with the findings, recommendations, and actions taken.
Who audits the auditor?
Information on how the Auditor's Office meets professional auditing standards can be found here