Improving Public-Sector Internal Auditing

The Challenge

For many developing countries, a lack of resources and professional knowledge, combined with high risk of corruption, inhibit many governments from setting up risk-based assurance mechanisms – especially effective internal auditing functions.

The Joscelyne + Associates team saw this issue firsthand when working with the government of Kenya and, later, other countries across Africa.

The development of public sector internal auditing functions faces several challenges. The key challenge and likely the most difficult is how to engage and facilitate a discussion around establishing effective risk-based internal auditing.

Once that was established, Joscelyne + Associates needed to:

  • Work with the head of internal audit to design a pilot approach to risk-based internal auditing
  • Select internal auditors who were willing to learn and try something new
  • Select pilot Ministries and establish rapport with the heads of the Ministry and get their buy-in for a pilot program.
  •  Introduce and educate internal auditors on professional standards and practices in such a way that they feel empowered to start immediate implementation
  •  Sustain communication and support as the pilot progressed and results were taken note of by all parties involved

The Solution

Our team designed and facilitated high-level workshops to commit government publically to professionalize the public sector internal auditing function. We:

  • Worked with each countries’ Auditor General and national internal auditing professional body to obtain their commitment to work with the project
  • Introduced the concept of risk-based auditing to steer auditors away from pre-audit inspection work towards good practice risk-based auditing
  •  Developed and facilitated workshops for each Ministry, teaching attendees the risk-based concept
  •  Followed this with facilitated hands-on risk-based audit planning – at both annual and individual audit levels
  • Monitored progress over time through hands-on engagement, workshops, discussions, etc.

The Impact

With a commitment from senior government officials, an internal auditing leader and willing pilot participants, we were able to conduct a successful pilot program. As a result, the program received high visibility within the government and among the media and other ministries asked to be included in the pilot. In the end, this approach became the norm.

Finally, the success of the project in Kenya helped Joscelyne + Associates expand the program to other African countries, including Ghana and Mozambique. The same concept is now being applied on other continents.

Auditor General of Kenya

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