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Practice Guide to Auditing Efficiency

Information technology (IT) systems

Table 1(e) - 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

  • Systems and processes do not make effective use of information technology.
  • What IT systems are in place that have as their objective the enhancement of efficiency?
  • Has the organization explored and assessed opportunities to use IT technologies (such as automation, online services, electronic documentation systems, and a paperless environment) to improve the efficiency of its activities and services? Have such systems been implemented?
  • Are IT systems shared with other application-processing functions in government to reduce costs?
  • How is information on applications and supporting documentation collected and stored? (Consider manual and automated processes.) Is information technology used to its full potential? Can information on particular applications be retrieved quickly?
  • Is the information requested and stored for each application or licence necessary, according to legislation or policy? (For example, if there are no age restrictions on a program, it may not be necessary to request and store birth certificates.)
  • Are adjudication processes manual or automated? Who are the decision makers? Are there clearly defined policies regarding who can make the decision on an application? Are there policies indicating when a decision must be elevated to the next organizational level?
  • Do adjudicators have the tools to enable them to complete and document decisions efficiently? For example, do they use automated checklists, templates, and automated report generators to increase efficiency and eliminate duplication?

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.