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Monday, November 08, 2010

Single-audit database would increase efficiency

States, nonprofits and other groups that annually expend $500,000 or more in federal awards are required to obtain an annual audit under the 1996 Single Audit Act Amendments and Office of Management and Budget Circular A-133. Requiring a single audit of an organization is intended to be a cost-effective measure, in place of requiring multiple audits of individual programs.

An interactive database would allow OMB to begin analyzing single audit reports instead of just collecting them. A recent research project sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers under the Association of Government Accountants' Corporate Partner Research Series was able to exploit existing technologies to transform single audit reports from PDF files to digital text and then to digitally link the collection form and the auditor's report. Once converted, the reports became searchable with intelligent and intuitive software that could articulate findings for a program across entities, across all programs within an entity, and between entities.

This is a great opportunity to turn this investment of 15 years and almost 500,000 reports into something useful. Going back just three years would create data trends sufficient to permit analysis that might help identify in advance high-risk recipients, or better yet, high-risk applicants.

Think of the possibilities. Details of audit findings could be examined: for a program across entities, to identify common issues with a program and type of entity; across all programs within an entity to identify common issues with an individual entity; and between entities to identify common issues occurring at a state level.

Another purpose for an interactive single-audit database would be to track corrective action plans to identify recurring or uncorrected problems, and to obtain metrics for how well the recipient is performing and how well the single audit is working.

-Joeseph Kull, FederalTimes.com

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