Examination and Reporting
The examination process together with the review and controls to ensure quality of reports produced is set out in this diagram.
Ensuring the quality of examinations and reports
In addition to financial audit, the C&AG also has a responsibility to report to the Oireachtas as specified by law.
At his sole discretion, the C&AG can carry out value for money examinations of those public bodies within his remit and report the results of that work to the Oireachtas. The C&AG also reports to the Oireachtas on matters arising from his financial audits as follows:
- after completing the audit of the accounts of all government departments, the C&AG prepares a report on such matters as he considers appropriate arising from those audits or from his related examinations of internal accounting controls operating in departments
- for other audits (e.g. non-commercial State bodies, or education or health bodies), the C&AG has the right, where he considers it appropriate, to prepare a special report in relation to ‘any general matters arising from audits’.
Examinations and reporting work are conducted by our professional qualified staff. From time to time we engage external assistance where expertise is not available internally, for example medical input into an examination in the health sector or information technology assistance on ICT security.
We have established policies and processes to ensure the highest quality standards are achieved in the conduct of each financial examination.
There is an overarching framework in which all examinations are conducted
- all examinations are conducted in accordance with international standards
- all audit staff are subject to a code of behaviour and ethical standards
- we have a reporting manual which sets out our methodology (how we apply the standards) to guide staff on the conduct of the examination
- we have procedures and systems for recording the work performed and evidence obtained for each examination.
Examination strategies and plans
Our examination work is undertaken in the context of our overall multi-annual reporting strategy which is approved by senior management. Sectoral strategies are developed for each of the major sectors within central government and annual plans are developed for topics to be examined. As issues emerge from financial audit, plans are adapted to cater for potential topics for examination.
Examination process and review
The examination process involves a number of stages – project scoping and initiation, fieldwork and review. There are a number of levels of challenge and review to ensure the correct conclusions are reached. There is a robust clearance process with public bodies to ensure that their views of draft findings and conclusions are properly and fairly considered prior to publication of any report. This process may also extend to other involved parties. Prior to publication there is final reviews by senior management including a senior manager who is independent of the examination team.
Our quality control system for examinations contains measures to monitor quality including:
- post project reviews and annual staff workshops (where staff can raise concerns)
- periodic review of a sample of reports by an external reviewer
- periodic satisfaction surveys of the Public Accounts Committee and our other stakeholders which inform how we improve the quality of our services.
Findings from these reviews are assessed and incorporated into the training needs of the Office. We also consider any recommendations for improvements arising from reviews and where appropriate adjust our examinations systems and methodology. We also encourage feedback from the public and public bodies on the quality of our service.