FAQs (an interview with an auditor)
What is Internal Audit?
According to the Institute of Internal Auditors, "Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization's operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes."
The U of L's internal audit department conducts its practice according to its Terms of Reference, the Institute of Internal Auditors' (IIA) Code of Ethics, and the IIA's International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing (Standards). The internal audit department reports functionally to the Audit Committee of the Board of Governors, and administratively to the Vice-President, Finance and Administration.
You must really like numbers and taxes?
Not particularly. I grumble each year when I prepare my own tax returns, and since I have been out of public practice for a while, you really would not want tax advice from me. In addition, most of the projects I work on deal with business processes and operational risks, so there is relatively little number crunching.
Are you responsible for finding fraud?
No. What distinguishes fraud from error is that someone usually takes deliberate measures to conceal or disguise the fraud, making it difficult to detect. As an auditor, I am responsible for remaining alert to the possibility of fraud, knowing how to identify fraud indicators and following up on any unusual findings, but I do not spend an inordinate amount of time searching for wrongdoing.
According to the university's Fraud Policy, the "The Internal Audit Department has the primary responsibility for coordinating the investigation of all allegations of fraud where there is sufficient cause or predication." However, any member of the university community could discover the cause or predication.
See also the Fraud page
Is Internal Audit part of the university's administration?
No. Internal Audit reports functionally to the Audit Committee of the Board of Governors, and administratively to the Vice-President, Finance and Administration. This reporting structure is best practice for ensuring organizational independence.
Are auditors only concerned with increasing internal controls?
No. Projects are initiated after a specific request or a risk-based assessment of the organization, so chances are high that a reportable condition already exists. If a project starts with someone thinking, "I believe we could be doing this better", audit recommendations are likely. This might be why there is a perception that auditors are always increasing internal controls. Internal auditors are concerned with evaluating the degree to which the processes in place will bring about the desired results. As a result, we consider whether the controls in place are the right ones, in the right amount. For example, I would not recommend that people use chains to keep their pens attached to their desks, because the cost (and annoyance) is higher than just replacing the pen. However, I believe most people should lock their laptops to their desks, because replacing the laptop and the information it contains is more costly.
Do you spend all day looking at expense claims and checking up on us?
No. A specific audit might involve reviewing a sample of expense claims, or invoices, but there are more pressing projects for Internal Audit.
Why can't I find you in the Financial Services staff directory?
Internal Audit is a stand-alone department, and is not part of Financial Services. Although both departments employ extremely cool accountant-types, we perform very different roles for the University of Lethbridge.