September 9, 2020
Published: The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)
Understanding COVID-19’s impact on internal audit is crucial to remaining relevant, demonstrating value, and focusing on issues most important to the organization. Key for internal auditors is to maintain an objective mindset, keep the board/audit committee informed, and help the organization learn and improve.
The IIA has released a new paper, Auditor Independence in Times of Crisis, exploring how chief audit executives (CAEs) and their teams are being asked to offer more hands-on help to support management. “When the boat is sinking, everyone from captain to galley crew is expected to be on bail-out duty. However, is it possible for internal audit to remain independent while undertaking these new tasks? . . . More significantly, in a crisis, should auditors and audit committees view independence as secondary to providing maximum value? Is there a choice to be made between helping management in any way possible — all hands on deck — or steadfastly maintaining independence by stepping aside?”
Internal audit’s unique position and expertise make it ideally suited to provide insightful advice that can encourage improvement. Offering advice, even developing solutions, does not mean taking over management decisions or ownership of risks, according to the paper.
“Auditor Independence in Times of Crisis” also will be the subject of a virtual meeting September 23 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Auditors Alliance. Public sector auditors will discuss the impact of the pandemic on audit innovation and the valuable lessons that can be taken from this crisis for use in the future. Learn more about the event.