The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Development Initiative (IDI) recently launched the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) Young Leaders (SYL) program geared toward enabling the growth of young leaders and spurring them to contribute toward SAI development through specific initiatives.
As part of the SYL program, Dr. Rebecca Vassallo, Principal Auditor with SAI Malta, is currently undertaking a project designed to establish and integrate data analytics into SAI Malta’s audit functions.
Under the supervision of Mr. Keith Mercieca, SAI Malta’s Assistant Auditor General, and with senior management support, the project—#AuditSmart—will improve audit efficiency, effectiveness and coverage.
Data analytics will be used to augment analysis, allowing for population-wide testing and profiling, smarter non-statistical sampling (when full population testing is not possible), as well as the use of automated and repeatable analytical processes. Envisaged as a useful tool in audit planning, data analytics will also focus on risk-based areas of interest and anomaly identification, resulting in more meaningful analysis and objective sampling.
A data analytics team has been created, drawing on resources from across the SAI. The team, operating in a functional and decentralized manner, is comprised of analysts who are embedded in each unit. The Maltese National Statistics Office conducted technical training sessions in April 2018, and the data analytics team has commenced planning future audit work that employs data analytics as primary audit techniques.
One planned audit will assess social assistance beneficiary eligibility by compiling corresponding income and asset profiles using multiple government data sources and drawing out inconsistencies. Another audit seeks to flag possible income tax evasion cases by examining motor vehicle registration and licensing. Both audits will:
Capitalize on the rich data available to government;
Link data from various sources; and
Allow for population testing, enabling a more comprehensive and systematic review.
The #AuditSmart project also aims to perform exploratory studies with key external stakeholders to assess readiness of the audit environment and identify current data limitations, as well as areas that require active management and long-term intervention from the SAI.
The SYL program is contributing to #AuditSmart by imparting relevant theories and best practices on managing and implementing this initiative, sharing experiences and creating networking opportunities with subject matter experts.
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