Government performance auditing
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
Government performance auditing focuses on improving how governments provide programs and services. While there is no one universally agreed upon definition, there are key definitions which capture the scope of government performance auditing. According to Government Auditing Standards, "Performance audits are defined as audits that provide findings or conclusions based on an evaluation of sufficient, appropriate evidence against criteria." Additionally, the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions defines performance auditing as "an independent examination of the efficiency and effectiveness of government undertakings, programs or organizations, with due regard to economy, and the aim of leading to improvements.
Government performance auditing was developed in the late 1960s and shepherded by the United States Government Accountability Office, (the chief audit arm of the US federal government). Government performance auditing has since spread to most state governments and many closely managed local governments. Internationally, government performance auditing has flourished under the leardership of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).
Other municipalities like Austin , Atlanta, Seattle, San Diego , Portland, San Jose and others have an Office of the City Auditor within their structure. The goal of the office is to ensure government accountability and to improve economy, effectiveness and efficiency of government operations. The independence is achieved by the reporting structure where the City Auditor is independently elected and reports directly to the public on recommendations and findings that are reported to other elected officials and City management. The examples of the work done would be: benchmarking to the other cities with the similar programs, comparing to the best practices entities or guidelines, assessing performance measures of the unit within the entity, checking the reliability of the IT systems of the municipalities, assessing the economic impact of programs or events, etc.
In Canada the Auditor General of Canada has strongly advocated a similar approach to improve government at all levels. This complements other efforts in that country such as the FCM InfraGuide for best practice exchange of all routine municipal infrastructure management problems.
Government audit organizations generally utilize established standards to conduct performance audits. In the United States, audit organizations use either Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, known as the Yellow Book, or the Institute of Internal Auditors's International Professional Practices Framework, known as the Red Book.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) promolgates the Yellow Book. The GAO issued the current edition in December 2011, which is referred to as the 2011 Standards . For performance audits, provisions of the 2011 Standards guide any performance audit starting after December 15, 2011. The effective date for financial audits and attestation engagements is for periods ending on or after December 15, 2012.
Government Audit Organizations
The Association of Local Governments Auditors (ALGA)  represents the central professional organization for local government audit organizations in the United States and Canada. ALGA was formed in 1989 and has since enjoyed a growing membership. There are more than 300 organizational members and more than 2,000 individual members of ALGA. Our membership represents a wide diversity of local government audit organizations, ranging from one-person audit shops to others with more than 75 professionals.
The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions(INTOSAI) operates as an umbrella organisation for the external government audit community. For more than 50 years it has provided an institutionalised framework for supreme audit institutions to promote development and transfer of knowledge, improve government auditing worldwide and enhance professional capacities, standing and influence of member SAIs in their respective countries. In keeping with INTOSAI's motto, 'Experientia mutua omnibus prodest', the exchange of experience among INTOSAI members and the findings and insights which result, are a guarantee that government auditing continuously progresses with new developments.
INTOSAI is an autonomous, independent and non-political organisation. It is a non-governmental organisation with special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
INTOSAI was founded in 1953 at the initiative of Emilio Fernandez Camus, then President of the SAI of Cuba. At that time, 34 SAIs met for the 1st INTOSAI Congress in Cuba. At present INTOSAI has 190 Full Members and 4 Associated Members.
Performance auditing is an independent examination of the efficiency and effectiveness of government undertakings, programs or organizations, with due regard to economy, and the aim of leading to improvements.
- Maine Legislature's Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability This example of a state governmental's performance auditing office includes links to several detailed reports which include methodology, evaluations results, recommendations and action plans.
- Association of Local Government Auditors This website has a library of extracts of local government audits, job listings and articles about performance auditing.
- Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts Performance Audits Operations Division Includes links to recently published reports of the state's performance auditing division with findings and recommendations on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs.
- West Virginia Legislative Auditor's Office Performance Evaluation and Research Division This example of a state governmental's performance auditing office includes links to several detailed reports which include methodology, evaluations results, recommendations and action plans.