The Audit and Inspection Functions at the United States Information Agency Need Management Attention

NSIAD-84-14: Published: Apr 4, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the audit and inspection functions at the U.S. Information Agency (USIA).

GAO found that the effectiveness of audit activity at USIA was impaired because: (1) there was a lack of timely compliance with audit recommendations; (2) the audit function was not properly located within the organizational structure of USIA; (3) there was insufficient funding and staffing of audit activities; and (4) the scope of audit activities was inadequate. USIA has not implemented an audit recommendation resolution system, and GAO identified numerous recurring management problems in such areas as personnel, payroll, travel, cash, property, contract, and grant management. In addition, GAO found perceptions throughout USIA that the inspection function was ineffective because: (1) inspectors did not use adequate criteria, standards, and methods; (2) inspectors had preconceived ideas about programs that hindered their ability to apply objective inspection criteria; and (3) inspectors recommended actions which would not be effective. GAO was unable to independently assess the inspection function at USIA because of a lack of sufficient documentation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IG, along with the Chief Inspector, developed and used the Inspection Handbook and training at seminars to standardize and provide a uniform inspection approach.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the Chief Inspector to develop standards and criteria for the inspection process, after consulting with the Director and area offices to satisfy their inspection objectives, and to provide an uniform inspection approach.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new IG is aware of the problems in merging the inspectors and auditors. IG selected a permanent deputy for inspections, who in turn is required to train and guide new inspectors in the audit and management aspects of the inspection process.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should establish a permanent professional inspection staff trained in management analysis.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IG started a training program concerning the use of workpapers. This is an ongoing training program which touches on various aspects of the audit and inspection process.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the audit staff to prepare and maintain complete and proper workpapers and supporting evidence and index, cross-reference, the facts to a completed report to ensure accuracy and supportability.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The system is being transferred from a manual system to a computer-based system. USIA plans to develop and implement the USIA follow-up function during calendar year 1987. The follow-up system was incorporated into the USIA operations manual on July 16, 1987.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should develop and implement an effective audit recommendation and follow-up compliance system adhering to Office of Management and Budget Circular A-50 and the Comptroller General's resolution standards and have IG monitor the effectiveness of the system.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IG, along with top USIA officials, approved and built up the staff for audit inspections from 12 professionals to 59 as of February 1986.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should support IG audit activities with adequate staffing and funding.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 1985, USIA appointed a highly qualified IG selected from the inspector general community.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should appoint an experienced and qualified Inspector General (IG) to carry out USIA audit activities in conformance with governmental audit standards.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The system was transferred from a manual system to a computer-based system. IG and staff closely monitor compliance with the accepted recommendation. This is done with cables to the responsible PAO at overseas locations and with visits to the post when inspectors/auditors are in the vicinity of the post on other assignments.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should develop and implement an effective inspection follow-up and compliance system.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

 

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