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Practice Guide to Auditing Efficiency

Commitment and tone from the top

Table 1(a) - Knowledge of business questions for an audit of efficiency focused on application processes

Note: Additions to the questions and risks in the Practice Guide are shown in italics.

Potential Risks to Efficiency

Knowledge of Business Questions

  • The organization is concerned with the effectiveness of the application-processing function, but not with efficiency. (That is, management exhibits little concern for ratios of resources consumed to the number of applications processed or licences issued, or other outputs or outcomes.)
  • Organizational culture does not stress need for efficiency.
  • There is no (or limited) internal audit function.
  • Senior management challenge of the status quo is not sufficiently rigorous.
  • Has senior management created a culture of efficiency? How has it communicated its commitment to the organization’s personnel and to the public? What have been management’s actions and messages?
  • Has senior management established expected results and standards for efficiency, complete with targets and indicators? For example, has the entity defined the number of applications to be processed, or licences to be issued, in a given time period, and the expected time required to process an application?
  • Has the organization set baselines for the cost, quality, and level of service for each of its main services and activities? If so, what are they? How were they established?
  • Has management set targets for improvement in the efficiency of the application-processing function? For example, are there plans to increase the number of applications processed, or to decrease the time required to issue a licence?
  • Does the organization have an internal audit function? If so, does its mandate specifically refer to efficiency? Have any recent audits of efficiency been conducted?
  • Is there an up-to-date policy manual specific to the application-processing function?

Source: Many of these questions have been adapted from Northern Ireland Audit Office’s Improving Public Sector Efficiency: Good Practice Checklist for Public Bodies (2010), as well as from recent audits of efficiency.