…Topics to avoid always sound good to a ‘somebody’: elected officials, agency directors, newspaper editors, green auditors, or even you. Yet these topics run the risk of wasted effort, embarrassment, loss of credibility, or lawyers.

I always keep in mind the goal of adding maximum value with each topic: Producing audits that leverage large performance improvements in government organizations to benefit the public. If the topic can’t compete with others on your list, then ask these ‘somebodies’ how they think their topic will produce on-going benefits for the public.

Choosing audit topics carefully is of paramount importance to undertaking an audit that can bring benefit to an agency and to the public. Part of knowing what to choose is knowing what to avoid; after all, all that glitters is not gold. Gary Blackmer, former Director of the Oregon Audits Division, shares some sage and straightforward advice with the Association of Local Government Auditors (ALGA ) on avoiding audit topics that look flashy but might not contribute anything of value to the general public, or to the agency being audited.
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