These tips are specifically for sponsor audits or other external audits, but they may also be used for guidance to prepare for an internal audit.
Planning & Preparation
- Designate an audit liaison person within your organization who will act as the auditors’ main contact. This should be an experienced person with strong project management and communication skills.
- Send a general communication to faculty and staff stating that if the auditors contact them directly, they should notify the liaison.
- Have the liaison develop a list of contacts who must be kept informed of the audit progress
- Have the liaison develop a list of people who can provide support on technical issues and gathering documentation
- If necessary, schedule and conduct a general training session with individuals who may be asked to participate in the audit either to produce documents, be interviewed by the auditors or participate in findings discussions
- Contact auditors and set up entrance conference. Clarify the purpose of the audit and ask that audit requirements be in writing.
- Alert the internal audit department (RMAS) of the upcoming audit
- Make necessary arrangements for the audit team – meeting rooms, preliminary interview schedule, entrance conference specifics including attendees
- Develop a list of questions to discuss in the meeting including the purpose, objectives and scope of the audit; the awards to be included and sampling techniques; timelines including beginning and end of fieldwork and expected report date; and communication process.
- Consider giving the auditor(s) a tour
- Determine staffing and space requirements, including whether the auditor will need internet access during fieldwork; arrange forauditor on site space; modify meeting room needs as necessary
- Obtain the list of requested records and develop an approach for pulling the information on a timely basis. Give a target date for providing records to the auditors
- Review the records prior to submission to the auditor. Consider if the records provide the necessary support. Anticipate what questions the records may provoke.
- Maintain a list of all records provided to the auditor
- Meet with auditors at least weekly to learn of the status of the audit and potential issues that are identified.
- Verify the facts on which issues are based; perform re-calculations and review source documents, if necessary
- Communicate at least weekly with those within the organization who need status updates
- Liaison should attend meetings between faculty/non-financial staff and external auditors unless the auditor or faculty insist otherwise
- Set up exit interview
- Ask for a copy of each finding or draft report prior to the interview
- Based on the nature of the issues, ask representatives from other groups to participate, e.g. general counsel, internal audit, office of sponsored programs, controllers office, etc.
- Agree on valid findings; negotiate those findings where the facts are not representative of the control weakness
- Discuss with the auditor the disposition of the audit issue, i.e. verbal comment, report item, management letter
- Escalate any disputed issues to supervisors.
- Ask for the final draft report for review
- Draft management responses and circulate to management for approval
- Understand the follow-up process
- Perform a post-audit evaluation to determine weaknesses in the process and potential changes to approach in the future