Contributing to Accountability in Democratic Government
Edited by Jeremy Lonsdale, Peter Wilkins and Tom Ling
8. Standards and quality Peter Wilkins and Richard Boyle The quality of performance audits is crucial to the standing and credibility of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs). In the widest sense, quality in this regard relates to the effectiveness and efficiency of the performance audit programme of an SAI. While this is often considered through reviews of the overall performance of SAIs, much of the effort and interest in quality is focused on the processes that contribute to quality, as well as the quality of individual performance audits. Lonsdale and Mayne (2005) detail two main aspects to quality in performance audit work, namely ‘the quality of the audit process (the ways in which reports are prepared) . . . and the quality of audit products themselves (the outputs from the work)’. The key characteristics of sound processes include independence, fairness and objectivity, and well-substantiated and careful production from inception to publication. Characteristics of quality in individual reports include accuracy, sound conclusions and recommendations, clarity, timeliness and impact. While this chapter addresses the concept of quality in the broadest sense, because of the focus on linkages between standards and quality, the main emphasis is on the quality of individual reports. Over the years, auditors have developed their own standards and created quality assurance arrangements to help maintain and improve quality. Mayne and Schwartz (2005, 9) note that ‘Professional standards are most evident in the area of performance audits and are strongly supported by audit offices as a means of ensuring credibility of their offices’....
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