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Practice Guide to Auditing Efficiency

Performance Monitoring and Reporting

Table 1(f) - Knowledge of Business questions for an audit of efficiency focused on a regulatory inspection and enforcement function

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

Potential Risks to Efficiency

Knowedge of Business Questions

  • There is a lack of attention to the efficiency of inspection and enforcement operations.
  • There is a lack of performance information or insufficient attention to available information.
  • Does the organization monitor, and report on, the efficiency, quality, and level of service of the main services it delivers? How and how often is this reporting done?
  • Does the entity have performance information on its inspection and enforcement activities, such as:
    • numbers of inspections performed;
    • results by type of actions taken when non-compliance was found;, and
    • inputs utilized,  such as number of inspectors and funds spent by major category?
  • Does the organization have information to show how efficiency, quality, and levels of service have changed over time for the services it delivers?
  • How have key indicators changed over time? Is the entity becoming more or less efficient? Consider the ratio of inputs (financial resources, staff) to outputs (enforcement activity) over time.
  • Does the organization have information to show whether efficiency targets and standards are being met?
  • Does the organization have a clear strategy for benchmarking each of its main services in order to assess their relative efficiency? Has the type of benchmark information required been clearly defined? What are the benchmarks?
  • Does the entity benchmark key aspects of inspection and enforcement activities against relevant comparators? When performance is inferior to benchmarks, is there evidence that actions are being taken to improve performance?
  • Has the organization found any barriers in providing and obtaining benchmarking information? What are the strategies for overcoming any barriers?
  • Does the organization regularly report progress against its efficiency objectives and initiatives? To whom does it report?
  • Is the organization able to demonstrate the efficiency gains achieved from individual projects? How have these gains improved the services delivered? Do reported efficiency gains include information on upfront investments and recurrent costs incurred in delivering efficiency gains?

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.