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What we audit

Performance auditing is an independent, objective and reliable examination of whether government systems, operations, programs, activities or organizations are operating in accordance with the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Economy is about getting the right inputs, such as goods, services, and human resources, at the lowest cost. Efficiency is about getting the most from available resources, in terms of quantity, quality, and timing of outputs or outcomes. Effectiveness is about meeting the objectives set and achieving the intended results.

How we audit

Core elements

There is no standardized format for a performance audit report. Rather, auditors choose a presentation and communication style that suits their jurisdiction and office practices. Performance audit reports commonly include:

  • audit objective(s) and sub-objectives (the key questions the audit will answer)
  • a conclusion against the objective(s)
  • a well-defined scope (programs, time period, geography)
  • criteria, against which performance is assessed, derived from authoritative sources
  • findings, both positive and negative, backed up with evidence
  • recommendations to entity management to correct identified deficiencies

What is assessed

Performance audits focus on the implementation of policy and programs and the delivery of public services. They typically look at the following areas and ask the following questions:

  • Systems and processes – Are management systems and internal controls well designed and operating as designed?
  • Results – Are intended results being achieved? Are entities monitoring and reporting on their own performance?
  • Compliance – Is the program or entity operating in accordance with applicable laws, policies, and specified authorities?
  • Risk management – Is the entity appropriately managing significant risks related to achieving program outcomes and safeguarding public funds?
  • Governance and oversight – Has the entity established effective governance practices and regimes?

Performance audits generally do not assess the merits of policy, the adequacy of program resources, or the future state of policies and programs.

Legislative performance audits in Canada are conducted in accordance with auditing and assurance standards of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

The selection process

The public sector auditing environment continues to grow in complexity. Albertans’ expectations regarding transparency and accountability continue to rise. At all times, we are responsible for making the best use of the resources entrusted to our office. We work to ensure the performance audits we perform are relevant and significant to Albertans.

Next steps

Legislative auditors make recommendations to entity management aimed at correcting the observed problem and preventing its re-occurrence. Well-designed recommendations are results-oriented, specific enough to allow for assessing progress, and practical, such that the entity can implement them in a reasonable time frame.

We repeat our recommendations if we do not find evidence they have been implemented. We may also issue new recommendations for matters that come to our attention during our assessment.

Audit entities are accountable to the Public Accounts Committee, not to the legislative auditor.

See our work in progress and find out how you can inform future audit work.