Internal Control

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  • Topic: Internal control, Auditing, Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission
  • Pages : 7 (2325 words )
  • Download(s) : 516
  • Published : October 28, 2010
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In accounting and auditing,internal control is defined as a process effected by an organization's structure, work and authority flows, people and management information systems, designed to help the organization accomplish specific goals or objectives.[1] It is a means by which an organization's resources are directed, monitored, and measured. It plays an important role in preventing and detecting fraud and protecting the organization's resources, both physical (e.g., machinery and property) and intangible (e.g., reputation or intellectual property such as trademarks). At the organizational level, internal control objectives relate to the reliability of financial reporting, timely feedback on the achievement of operational or strategic goals, and compliance with laws and regulations. At the specific transaction level, internal control refers to the actions taken to achieve a specific objective (e.g., how to ensure the organization's payments to third parties are for valid services rendered.) Internal control procedures reduce process variation, leading to more predictable outcomes. Internal control is a key element of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 and the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, which required improvements in internal control in United States public corporations. Internal controls within business entities are also referred to as operational controls. Internal controls have existed from ancient times. In Hellenistic Egypt there was a dual administration, with one set of bureaucrats charged with collecting taxes and another with supervising them.[2] In the Republic of China, the Control Yuan (監察院; pinyin: Jiānchá Yùan), one of the five branches of government, is an investigatory agency that monitors the other branches of government.

Definitions
There are many definitions of internal control, as it affects the various constituencies (stakeholders) of an organization in various ways and at different levels of aggregation. Under the COSO Internal Control-Integrated Framework, a widely-used framework in the United States, internal control is broadly defined as a process, effected by an entity's board of directors, management, and other personnel, designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of objectives in the following categories: a) Effectiveness and efficiency of operations; b) Reliability of financial reporting; and c) Compliance with laws and regulations. COSO defines internal control as having five components:

· Control Environment-sets the tone for the organization, influencing the control consciousness of its people. It is the foundation for all other components of internal control. · Risk Assessment-the identification and analysis of relevant risks to the achievement of objectives, forming a basis for how the risks should be managed · Information and Communication-systems or processes that support the identification, capture, and exchange of information in a form and time frame that enable people to carry out their responsibilities · Control Activities-the policies and procedures that help ensure management directives are carried out. · Monitoring-processes used to assess the quality of internal control performance over time. The COSO definition relates to the aggregate control system of the organization, which is composed of many individual control procedures. Discrete control procedures, or controls are defined by the SEC as: "...a specific set of policies, procedures, and activities designed to meet an objective. A control may exist within a designated function or activity in a process. A control’s impact...may be entity-wide or specific to an account balance, class of transactions or application. Controls have unique characteristics – for example, they can be: automated or manual; reconciliations; segregation of duties; review and approval authorizations; safeguarding and accountability of assets; preventing or detecting error or fraud. Controls within a...
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