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Practice Guide to Auditing Efficiency

Charts and Graphs

GOOD PRACTICE: Using charts and graphs to present and simplify complex information makes audit observations easier to understand and increases their impact. Since efficiency is often about process improvement, process maps may be useful to help readers understand findings and recommendations.

Relationship of Inputs to Outputs Over Time

The example below is taken from the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2012 audit of Criminal Prosecutions and allows the reader to quickly grasp the correlation between inputs (expenditures, staff) and outputs (charges disposed). This type of exhibit is a powerful way of presenting complex data found in many types of entities and programs. To support the exhibit, the audit report also includes a discussion of developments over the years that explain the trends portrayed in the exhibit.

Annual Percentage Change in Number of Crown Atoorneys, Charges Disposed and Criminal Law Division Expenditures, 1992-2011

Source of data: Ministry of the Attorney General, Public Accounts

Relationship of Inputs to Outputs Over Time

Benchmarking Comparison

The chart below, also from the Ontario Criminal Prosecutions audit, is a simple example of how the results of a benchmarking exercise can be presented in an effective manner. If this data had been provided in a table, it would have lacked the clarity of the chart.

Average Cost per Charge Disposed of by Region, 2011/12 ($)

Source of data: Ministry of the Attorney General

Benchmarking Comparison

Analysis of Cost Drivers

In its 2011 Review of Benefits Budgeting and Overtime Drivers in HRM, the Auditor General of Halifax Regional Municipality provided the following narrative analysis of the relationship between the incurrence of overtime costs and absenteeism. The narrative explanation is strengthened by the accompanying chart.

“Analysis into absences across the organization showed no direct day-for-day correlation between overtime incurred and absences from regular employment. While the OAG was not able to establish a direct day-for-day correlation, overtime costs track on average, at 33% of the value of absences in any given month (i.e. in a period if there were $100 in absences, there would be approximately $33 in overtime). August, typically the highest period for vacations, has a ratio of only 22% overtime to absences.” 

Absences and Earned Overtime Actual Costs Fiscal Years 2007-2010 Combined

Analysis Cost Drivers

Process Time

The need to convey an understanding of process time is common in audits of efficiency. The chart below, reported in the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2012 audit of the province’s Diabetes Management Strategy  was used to depict the actual wait time for bariatric surgery in Ontario as compared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s reported wait time.

Referral Process for Bariatric Surgery in Ontario

Prepared by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario

Process Time