Thursday, March 27, 2008

Auditors as unsung heroes and the role of audit committees

No one likes auditors – or so it seemed until I read in yesterday’s Guardian that Auditors are unsung heroes.

To be precise, Duncan Campbell-Smith was only really talking about the Audit Commission who audit local government and the NHS (and inspect social landlords). But I’ll claim some credit as I temped in the mid-90s for District Audit!

It is nice for auditors and accountants to get some good press. Their image problems are such that there are even calls for jihad against the profession.

On a serious note, I do think that when – in the aftermath of organisational failure in the private, public or even third sector - the cry goes up of “where were the auditors”, we should also ask about the audit committee who should have been thinking about risk and internal control. Auditors need audit committees to keep them on their toes. In order to do that effectively, audit committees have to know what their own purpose is. Too often they don’t.

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