The Effectiveness of Internal Audit in Central Government

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This report examines the effectiveness of internal audit in central government, covering both main departments and their associated arm's length bodies. Government is not getting the most out of the 70 million it spends on internal audit because the service does not always focus on the right issues and it is often not of sufficient quality to be useful in decision-making. 84 per cent of respondents to an NAO consultation considered internal audit added some or substantial value to their organisation, but had concerns over the current depth of insight, relevance and underlying execution of internal audit work. Many key stakeholders believe that internal audit work is not sufficiently tailored to be relevant to the different issues facing individual organisations. Treasury guidance on what internal audit should deliver is not sufficiently specific and there is little consistency in the application of standards. Variations in quality and coverage mean that the NAO often cannot take assurance from internal audit work. There are specific areas where internal audit could be more effective: the usefulness and relevance of reports; the expertise of staff, including expertise on IT-based information systems; the identification of efficiencies in the organisation; and the ability to offer advice to senior management. HM Treasury's Internal Audit Transformation Programme is a partial solution to the issues identified by the NAO, but needs more detail on what should be expected of an effective internal audit service. Nor does the Treasury have an accurate view on the costs of internal audit in government.

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