Use of Investigative Information by Inspectors General To Identify and Report Internal Control Weaknesses

AFMD-84-38: Published: Feb 24, 1984. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1984.


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    GAO reviewed the Offices of Inspectors General (OIG's) at four agencies to determine the approaches that the OIG's employ to identify and report systemic information, demonstrated through case examples the value of having OIG's share the information, and identified issues that OIG's should consider when designing an approach to share information.

    The four OIG's reviewed use various formal and informal methods to share systemic information developed during investigation with other OIG's. The systems used differ in degree of structure, stage of development, and OIG management emphasis and use. OIG officials recognize the continual need for refinement and have made, or are contemplating, changes in their systems. Some OIG's have placed their audit and investigative staffs in the same location, and all OIG's hold joint meetings with auditors and investigators. Shared information has: (1) triggered OIG audits and reviews resulting in improvements in internal controls; (2) been the basis for suggesting corrective action to program management; and (3) been the subject of bulletins that inform agency employees of significant patterns of fraud. GAO suggested that Inspectors General should consider the following issues when redesigning systems for sharing systemic information: (1) the necessity of preparing special reports detailing systemic weaknesses; (2) identifying who should prepare, review, and transmit the systemic information; (3) the degree of structure and detail needed in the reporting method; (4) methods of motivating investigators to identify and report systemic information; and (5) the extent to which Inspectors General should ensure that investigators can identify and describe internal control weaknesses that permit fraud. Finally, OIG's should balance the potential usefulness of systemic information against the cost of acquiring, analyzing, and sharing it.

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