How Do I ... Report Audit Findings

 

According to The IIA’s Practice Advisory 2410-1: Communication Criteria, engagement observations and recommendations emerge by comparing criteria (the correct state) with condition (the current state). The observations — and recommendations, if developed — are based on four attributes: criteria, condition, cause, and effect. These four attributes comprise a finding.  

Criteria

Criteria represent the laws, regulations, standards, specific requirements, measures, expected performance, policies, and procedures against which performance is compared or evaluated. Criteria identify the required, expected, or desired state or expectation and provide a context for evaluating evidence and understanding the findings, conclusions, and recommendations included in
the report.

Condition

The condition explains “what is.” Auditors should ensure the condition statement is concise and focused, adheres to the facts, and refers to supporting evidence.

Cause

The cause statement must address the root cause. Moreover, the statement should be based on facts, not speculation. The cause identifies the reason or explanation for the condition or factors responsible for the difference between the situation that exists (condition) and the required or desired state (criteria).

Effect

Writing the effect statement requires thoughtful preparation. While an auditor may merely state that an audit client is not complying with a particular law, regulation, or policy, it is advisable to specify the actual or potential effect of the noncompliance.

Recommendation

The recommendation statement should be clear and directly address the cause statement by describing the necessary corrective action. If the recommendation leaves room to doubt how it relates to the cause, then the recommendation likely is poorly written.

Presenting Findings

When writing a finding for workpapers or a report, auditors should understand the four elements of a finding and how they relate. Each of these elements must come together to make a cohesive and persuasive set of facts that merit the audit client’s attention. When presenting the finding, it is best to begin with the condition (what is) and then lay out the criteria (what should be), followed by a discussion about the effect and then the cause.

 

Adapted from “Audit Finding Fundamentals," by Benice Lemaire (Internal Auditor, "Back to Basics," October 2012).


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April 2014IaCover