A renewed commitment to internal audit modernization – Canadian Government Executive

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March 27, 2015

A renewed commitment to internal audit modernization

Whether at the territorial, provincial or federal government level, internal audit plays a critical role in aiding executives in the performance of their duties. By assisting in the promotion of the overall effectiveness and efficiency of government operations and the transparency of decision-making, internal audit provides deputy heads with valuable evidence-based assurance.

Fundamentally, it equips executives with strategic insight on the design and operation of the governance, risk management, and control processes in their organizations. The results of internal audits will help identify emerging issues through the identification of practical recommendations for the improvement of management processes and performance.

To facilitate this role, heads of internal audit from Canada’s territories, provinces and federal government came together in 2003 to create the Government Internal Auditors Council of Canada (GIACC). The Council is dedicated to the ongoing strengthening of the internal auditing community across the country’s public institutions.

Since that time, the demands and challenges for internal audit have substantially increased. Major developments have included the introduction of independent audit committees, the adoption of international standards, and the increased professionalization of the function. As well, increased sophistication of audit methodologies, particularly in terms of effectively leveraging large data volumes, has added to audit complexity.

In addition, the Institute of Internal Auditors Canada (IIAC) was established in 2006 with an aim of addressing issues specific to this country. Today, the standard-setting body represents over 7,600 internal auditors as part of the larger IIA Global organization, and is the authoritative voice and advocate for Canada’s internal audit profession.

As a result of the convergence of these factors, GIACC members elected this fall to renew their commitment to a pan-Canadian approach to internal audit by modernizing the organization’s objectives and structure. An important aspect of this commitment was the adoption of a strengthened and broader Charter. The Charter lays out new objectives to enhance the effectiveness of public sector internal audit and facilitate improvement in its quality and performance.

The Council re-dedicated itself to the promotion of internal auditing in the broader public sector, and adopted a new resourcing model to sustain its expanded role so that all jurisdictions are supported, but none are precluded from participating.

A new and stronger governance structure has been adopted to enable ongoing direction and support. The authors, Richard Kennedy and Terry Hunt, were elected in October 2014 as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively.

The Council also entered into an exciting new relationship with IIAC, which was recently appointed as the secretariat to provide management and administrative support for Council activities and initiatives. The Council’s membership reflects the diverse nature of the internal audit function in different Canadian jurisdictions, comprising one internal audit executive from each of the 14 federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions. Working groups are formed to address specific issues, and a National Forum for Government Chief Internal Auditors is held each year.

In order to support public sector management through strengthened audit functions, specific Council activities include:

• Performance benchmarking through the establishment of a Performance Indicators Panel;
• Undertaking research directed at building upon inter-jurisdictional experiences and knowledge;
• Sharing tools and better practices through an “open source” approach; and,
• Supporting the creation of IIAC’s Canadian Centre for Government Auditing to strengthen internal auditing in the broader public sector.

This ambitious work agenda serves to ensure the continued relevance of internal audit for all public service executives. It strives to support the efficient delivery of standardized, professional audit services focused on providing value-added. Through the Council’s new Charter, territorial, provincial and federal internal audit leaders have committed to achieving these goals in support of sound, informed executive decision-making.

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