3.4 A changing landscape: how internal auditors in the public sector are facing the challenges of the post-COVID-19 environment
Internal auditors are used to building their audit programs while taking into account the changing realities of their organizations and use risks as beacons to identify audit topics that are more susceptible to provide necessary assurance and advice on corrective measures that could be used by management, oversight bodies and stakeholders. GIACC, in conjunction with its partners on this project, IIA Canada and CAAF, identified the need to take stock of the unprecedented events related to COVID-19 and assess their impacts on Canadian governments and their internal audit functions.
The pandemic has been a game changer on every level. Without falling into too many clichés, it is fair to say that we are still assessing how it will impact all of us and for how long. Internal audit doesn’t exist in a bubble. On the contrary, it is an intricate part of the machinery of government and therefore is deeply affected by the changes that society as a whole is experiencing.
This panel will outline the risks that internal audit is designed to assess and to face. The panel will discuss and expand on the risks that have emerged during the pandemic, such as human resource management, cybersecurity, fraud, stress on the health system, performance reporting and financial management. Some of these risks are brand-new and we are still pondering their magnitude. Some have been around for a while but have been magnified by the pandemic.
The panel will also debate how public sector internal audit functions are facing these challenges. Good practices, such as electronic working papers and remote auditing are expanding. A number of GIACC internal audit functions are now using various forms of agile auditing. This includes greater flexibility with deadlines provided to auditees, more flexible planning and execution and real-time auditing. With the harnessing of new technologies and the honing of new competencies, internal audit is evolving and adapting to meet the needs of Canadian governments. The panel will discuss how it will continue to add value and contribute to improvements of the life of citizens.