The Audit Office’s Audit Support team provides technical advice on professional standards, legislation and regulations, and monitoring of audit quality.
Audit Support helps our financial auditors maintain their professional knowledge and keep up-to-date with latest developments. Audit Support contributes to high quality public sector financial reporting by ensuring audit staff understand, implement and apply auditing and accounting standards consistently and fairly. Audit Support reviews modifications to clients’ audit opinions before they are issued, to ensure they are fair and in accordance with applicable standards.
Audit Support is seen as a leader in the profession, particularly in public sector accounting issues. Their input is regularly sought by professional bodies and NSW Treasury on a wide variety of financial reporting matters, policy development and legislative proposals. Audit Support also contributes to the Australasian Council of Auditors-General when commenting on new pronouncements.
Audit Support produces a monthly publication, ‘Professional Update’, available on our website. This provides commentary on emerging issues, the activities of standard setters, NSW Treasury and other central agencies, regulators, professional bodies and the courts.
In 2015–16, Audit Support continued to support and maintain our financial audit methodology, Iris, which is based on one used by a ‘Big Four’ professional services firm. Iris addresses the requirements of the professional standard setters and legislators and uses world-leading audit software. Iris targets risks to deliver effective, value adding audits. Audit Support also helped our Performance Audit branch maintain a software-based solution to document and deliver audits.
In 2016–17, we will maintain our professional presence by:
- contributing through ACAG to the development of new standards by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB)
- conducting quality reviews that focus on audits in progress, as well as completed audits, providing timely support and feedback to audit teams in the field
- being on the advisory group for the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board’s (AUASB) review of the Standard on Assurance Engagements 3500 Performance Engagements
- continuing to liaise with NSW Treasury about the development and implementation of the Financial Management Transformation Program, and development of public sector accounting policy and legislation
- engaging with professional bodies about issues facing the profession, their focus areas, the public sector and the development of educational programs
- engaging with central agencies, standard setters, regulators and audit offices in other jurisdictions
- publishing ‘Professional Update’, the Audit Office’s monthly newsletter
- releasing newly developed better practice guides
- continuing to support the development of audit staff from Papua New Guinea by hosting two secondees.
Services to the public sector
The Audit Office aims to be recognised as a leader and expert in the auditing and accounting profession. We do this via presentations, submissions, contributions to external committees, and appearances before parliamentary committees.
We delivered 27 presentations to a variety of audiences in 2015–16, three less than in 2014–15. Twenty-two of these were to the public sector. Presentation topics included the role of the Audit Office, public-private partnerships, IT audit, issues impacting Australian universities, women in leadership and the leadership role of Chief Financial Officers (see Appendix Three and Four).
Submissions to professional bodies
The Audit Office contributes to the collaborative efforts of Australian audit offices by helping to develop responses to professional bodies on pronouncements exposed for comment. In 2015–16, Audit Support prepared or contributed to seven responses to standard setters (including the AASB’s Agenda Consultation) by the Australasian Council of Auditors-General (ACAG) (see Appendix Four for further details). Audit Support also contributed to ACAG's submission on the Victorian Government review of the role of the Victorian Auditor-General.
Influencing by educating, mentoring and advising
Our staff have, for many years, been involved in determining the content of course and training modules, leading training and focus sessions and marking examination papers for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia, see Appendix Four.
Graduates employed by the Audit Office must gain membership of a professional accounting body by completing training and passing exams for a recognised Australian professional accounting qualification.
The Audit Office provides formal mentoring to all our candidates working towards memberships of a professional accounting body. Our program achieves consistently outstanding results and provides our audit teams with well trained, high calibre professionals.
The Audit Office interacts with Australian accounting bodies, participating in their committees, research groups and working parties (see Appendix Four). We help them better understand issues facing the public sector. Our representatives attend roundtables hosted by the standard setters. We develop comments in conjunction with other Australian audit offices to help the boards develop standards that can be applied with equal ease in the public as well as private sectors.
Influencing through the Australasian Council of Auditors-General
The Audit Office is an active participant in ACAG, established in 1993 to encourage sharing and cooperation between audit offices in Australasia.
In 2015–16, the Audit Office provided administrative support for the Executive Director of ACAG. We hosted and chaired meetings of Auditors-General, as well as participated in and supported various ACAG sub-groups and working parties, including:
- Financial Reporting and Auditing Committee, which is responsible for, among other things, developing a consensus view in relation to matters exposed for comment on financial auditing, accounting and financial reporting
- Heads of Financial Audit Group, which shares information between members and supports the development of effective and efficient financial auditing methods and practices by members, and oversees financial audit training for member offices and others
- Heads of Performance Audit Group, which shares information between members and supports the development of effective and efficient performance auditing methods and practices by members, and oversees performance audit training for member offices and others
- Audit Quality Assurance Panel, which seeks to enhance audit quality in Australasian audit offices, meet legal and professional requirements for quality control and establish agreed audit quality indicators and benchmarks
- Information Systems Audit Group, a forum for exchange of knowledge and experience in information systems audit and the use of information technology as a support tool for auditors.
ACAG Performance Audit Managers Workshop 2015
This workshop, held in October 2015, brought together managers from audit offices in Australia and New Zealand. Two of our staff presented and led discussions at this forum. The forum is focused on current practice issues and emerging challenges of performance auditing.
ACAG Performance Audit Methodology Workshop 2016
In March 2016, many of our Performance Audit staff attended this workshop, along with staff from other audit offices in Australia and New Zealand. The program defined performance auditing, discussed relevant auditing standards and guidance for assurance engagements, and the ACAG performance audit methodology. It outlined each stage of an audit from planning a performance audit to reporting.
The heads of Performance Audit in all Australian States and Territories meet twice a year to share ideas on performance audit topics, methodologies and better practice. Through these meetings, and subsequent liaison between audit teams in the different jurisdictions, we have helped other offices develop new audits on topics that have proved useful to them. In turn, our performance audit program has benefited from topics successfully delivered elsewhere.
In 2015–16, we worked with BPK Indonesia, the Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia, helping them transition from cash to accrual accounting and the implications of this change to their organisation. This involved the Audit Office running training courses for BPK, holding various presentations, as well as facilitating staff secondments.
We also worked closely with the Auditor-General’s Office in Papua New Guinea, with staff coming to the Audit Office on secondment. These secondees had the opportunity to work with our audit teams to improve their skills and knowledge in contemporary audit techniques and methodology.
We are currently working to extend this knowledge sharing with other nations by developing a ‘twinning’ relationship with the Office of the Auditor General in the Solomon Islands, which if successful will result in secondment opportunities for Audit Office staff to the Solomon Islands and vice versa. This arrangement will focus on helping the Office of the Auditor General in the Solomon Islands implement a modern audit methodology.