While operating at historically-low budgetary and staffing levels, the federal inspectors general (IG) community embodies the ‘do more, with even less’ mantra in government. AGA conducted the second annual survey of federal IGs to identify areas of common concern across the oversight landscape. This year’s survey also included state auditors.

View the report: http://bit.ly/1qPt622

This survey’s results are consistent with last week’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings on the significant barriers IGs confront. Enabling IG’s to execute their statutory responsibilities requires strong community advocacy to understand the IG’s role and collaboration to overcome challenges, achieve efficiencies and eliminate impediments. IG offices with significant data analytic operations stated that restrictions in the ability to match reliable data records across the federal government has limited their ability to recommend improvements to operations. They believe such restrictions need to be examined across the federal government to allow for better oversight of federal programs.

Budget, technology and human resources-based themes remain prevalent within today’s IG community. However, this year’s survey delved deeper into identifying some underlying limitations that inhibit the effectiveness of the community.

Human resource issues ranked high in this year’s survey for both the IG and state audit communities. In fact, 32 percent of federal respondents noted a decline in staffing over the past year. IG offices struggle with the pace and effectiveness of the federal hiring process. Frustration was expressed at the lack of control over the candidate evaluation process and the inability to attract the specialized skills needed to conduct data analytics and information technology oversight.

New areas of concern identified in the IG community include:

  • Mandatory Requirements Inhibit Risk-Based Planning: Nearly all IGs had concerns about the increase in mandatory requirements imposed upon their offices in a time of tight budgets and flat staffing levels.
  • Data Access, Format and Integrity Impair Data Analytics: The ability to access data, as well as the format and integrity of the data in agency systems is limiting data analytics on a broader scale. Some of these issues can be overcome through further collaboration and cooperation, but others require a sustained effort to improve data quality and achieve meaningful analytics.
  • Proactive Community Advocacy and Collaboration Important: The federal Offices of the Inspectors General is a community of 72 members. Leading and governing such a large community of both large and small IG offices is challenging. However, strong community advocacy and collaboration can help to communicate the role of the IG and help some IG offices lower costs by sharing services.

Both federal and state communities show that financial audits remain an effective oversight approach to strengthen and sustain internal controls. “The annual financial statement audit touches almost every part of the agency or department and many, if not all, of the basic financial information systems used,” noted AGA CEO, Relmond Van Daniker. He continued, “We know that without the audited statement, the internal controls and data integrity would show a marked deterioration.”

David M. Zavada, the survey director and partner, Kearney & Company, noted, “This year’s survey took a more in-depth look at the issues and concerns within the IG community. While budget, technology and human resource issues again ranked highly; the survey identified a number of impediments affecting the IG’s ability to effectively execute their responsibilities. For example, access to information, access to reliable data for data analytics, and a supportive hiring process, all of which are critical elements to IG effectiveness. We hope this annual survey will facilitate an ongoing dialogue on the issues facing the audit and oversight community.”

The report, a product of AGA’s Corporate Partner Advisory Group (CPAG), was sponsored by Kearney & Company.

About AGA: AGA is the member organization for financial professionals in government. We lead and encourage change that benefits our field and all citizens. Our networking events, professional certification, publications and ongoing education help members build their skills and advance their careers. www.agacgfm.org

About Kearney: Founded in 1985, Kearney & Company is a Certified Public Accounting firm specializing in providing auditing, accounting, and consulting services to the federal government. www.kearneyco.com


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