How Does Internal Auditing Maintain Its Independence and Objectivity

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Table of Contents

I.Introduction
II.The purpose of internal auditing
III.Profession guidance on independence and objectivity
IV.Consulting services: a challenge to audit independence?
V.Independence vs. Objectivity
VI.Conclusion
VII.Bibliography

I.Introduction
‘The internal auditor occupies a unique position he or she is employed by the management but is also expected to review the conduct of management which can create significant tension since the internal auditor's independence from management is necessary for the auditor to objectively assess the management's action, but the internal auditor's dependence on the management for employment is very clear.' -------Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)

Although recently the focus of internal auditing is on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, the importance of maintaining the independence and objectivity of internal audit should never be underweighted. In fact, if the independence and objectivity of internal auditing is impaired, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance is impaired at the same time. INDEPENDENCE: The freedom from conditions that threaten objectivity or the appearance of objectivity. Such threats to objectivity must be managed at the individual auditor, engagement, functional, and organizational levels (IIA). ‘Audit independence is essentially a state of mind'. Internal auditors can not be physically independent from the organization they are working for, but they can always stay objective. OBJECTIVITY: An impartial, unbiased mental attitude and avoidance of conflicts of interest, allowing internal auditors to perform engagements in such a manner that they have an honest belief in their work product and that no significant quality compromises are made (IIA). In order to stay objective, internal auditors should not assume any management responsibilities and should avoid auditing anything that they have direct or indirect authority or responsibility for. Internal auditors are not supposed to receive any gifts, cash, or special treatment from any employees, business associates, or clients. Staff auditors should have job rotations periodically.

II.The purpose of internal auditing
‘Internal auditing is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization's operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.' --- IIA's internal audit definition

Any discussion of the independence and objectivity of internal audit should begin with the purpose of internal audit function in an organization. In a small entity, the employer or the boss knows every employee by name. And most of the time, the employer owns the entity. He or she is the one who supervises everything in the entity. Since the entity is small and has limited people to govern, there is no need for internal auditing. The boss knows everything. In a large entity, the owners include a group of stakeholders and the entity is managed by executives. There are more employees in the entity, business transactions are more sophisticated, and there are more departments and management levels. It is impossible for the stakeholders or executives to supervise everything. Therefore, there is a need for internal auditors to assume internal control and risk management responsibilities for those stakeholders and executives. And sometimes the internal auditors will also serve as consultants for management regarding a certain project or management issue. The purpose of having internal audit function in a large entity is to improve efficiency, control risk, manage risk, and eventually add value to the organization. Therefore, the internal audit function must be independent from management responsibilities, and report directly to executives and board of directors. Unlike external auditors who serve mainly to third...
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