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Practice Guide to Auditing Efficiency

Commitment and Tone from the Top


A strong commitment to efficiency on the part of senior management, sometimes referred to as the “tone from the top,” is crucial for instilling a strong awareness of efficiency among an organization’s personnel and to encourage compliance with regulations and relevant internal policies.

Knowledge of Business Questions

Potential Audit Criteria

  • 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, standards, targets and/or indicators for efficiency? If yes, how were they established and what are they?
  • 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?
  • Do senior management performance contracts (setting out annual performance objectives) include specific targets and measures related to the efficiency of the programs or services under a manager’s control?
  • 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?
  • Efficiency as a priority—Senior management has emphasized that efficiency is a priority and that achieving it is a shared responsibility of all managers and staff.
  • Clear expectations—Senior management has clearly established and communicated expected results in terms of efficiency, complete with targets and indicators.
  • Established baselines—The organization has established clear baselines for the cost, quality, and level of service of each of it main services and activities.