Thursday, June 21, 2012

We Were Auditors Once, and .... (Part 4)

We were auditors once and we absolutely hated audit programs (and working papers). Yes, we are borderline heretics here. We know that audit programs are road maps for conducting thorough audits but after a few trips to work and back, how many people still need to consult their GPS device to make the right turns? Same thing with audit programs. If an auditor having done the same kind of audit a few times still needed to consult an audit program, he's not a thinker, he's a robot. Yet, if an auditor does not follow the audit program and dutifully document his work and sign off on each and every audit step, the "gotcha guys" in headquarters who secretly retrieve archived audit working papers in order to find inconsequential omissions will come down on he auditor like Thor. My goodness, how much less value can you add to a process than to be a checker of the checkers (and these "checkers of the checkers" are right up there with GSA's Las Vegas conference folks, compensation-wise).

It would be one thing if audit programs were one-page checklists, but these Government audit programs are gargantuan monsters with sometimes dozens of pages. Most of the stuff in these audit programs are not even relevant to what the auditor wants to accomplish but they still need to labor though them and write up justification as to why this or that step doesn't apply. And because of this preoccupation with prettiness, there's less time for the actual audit (boots on the ground, as they say). Take, for example, a DCAA audit report issued earlier this year. The auditor charged 1,457 hours to the assignment of which only 169 of those hours were spent at the contractor's facility. Imagine spending three-quarters of a year on the same audit. Is there a pulse in that guy? Imagine also, spending eight of those nine months squirreled away in your cubicle. Some people might like to look at faded family pictures tacked to the cubicle fabric, watch old vacation pictures cycle through their screen saver, and suck stale coffee out of their stained mugs, but true auditing is performed out at the contractor's facility, not within the confines of the office. Back in the day, we would have found everything there was to find in 40 hours and then we would be off on the next assignment.

We hated it but we did it anyway. After all, we knew who signed our paychecks.

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