Opportunities for Improving Internal Auditing in the Department of Agriculture

CED-78-28: Published: Feb 9, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 9, 1978.

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The Department of Agriculture's (USDA) audit requirements have increased sharply in recent years without a corresponding increase in the internal audit staff. To provide increased audit coverage and to make more effective use of available resources, the Office of Audit (OA) has: emphasized the use of advanced audit techniques such as statistical sampling and computer packages; increased the use of coordinated and program-type audits; attempted to increase the quantity and quality of State audits of USDA programs; and undertaken various management improvement projects intended to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of OA audit operations.

The number of staff-years initially programmed for internal audit in 1977 was about the same as in 1962 when the audit function was first centralized. OA has been able to provide improved audit coverage, but the size and complexity of the USDA programs have increased so greatly that a number of areas do not receive enough audit coverage. The main shortfall in coverage is in USDA programs administered by State and local governments and educational institutions. Overall, OA audit reports are accurate, fair, and objective; they include all significant deficiencies detected during the audit; and they give adequate consideration to auditor comments. However, management of audits and the timeliness and clarity of reports on major audits could be improved. OA has recognized the need to improve workpaper techniques, cross-referencing of reports to supporting workpapers, and the timeliness and clarity of reports.

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