Audit Scotland ReBlog: Audit Scotland goes global

Scotland’s financial devolution settlement is complex and ever-changing. Our health and social care services have gone through a sustained period of reform, and they continue to face demographic challenges. Community empowerment legislation is changing the way local decisions about services and public spending are made. Add in Brexit and talk of a potential further referendum on Scottish independence, and Scotland makes a fascinating case study for the people charged with tracking public money from our fellow audit institutions overseas.

 

Learn more about how our compatriots ‘cross the pond are handling the ongoing social and economic changes in Scotland here.

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Internal Auditor Repost: How to audit culture

Enron, Worldcom, FIFA, General Motors, Volkswagen, and Wells Fargo are just a few examples of scandals caused by organizational cultures that encouraged inappropriate behavior. The reputation risk cries out for audit coverage, yet only 42 percent of internal audit functions are auditing their organization’s culture, according to The IIA’s 2016 North American Pulse of Internal Audit study.

Auditing an organization’s culture can be challenging because of its complexity, its subjectivity, and the potential resistance of key players. However, approaches and techniques pioneered by some internal audit functions can help auditors successfully enhance coverage of culture.

James Roth, president of Audit Trends LLC, explores the difficulties and potential rewards of auditing organizational culture. He also highlights some of the possible methods and techniques that can be used to measure a topic that is notoriously hard to pin down, and even harder to influence with audit recommendations. Read more here.

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Civic Analytics Network RePost: An open letter to the open data community

Open data is one of the most important and core missions of Chief Data Officers. In the past 5 years, the number of cities with an open data portal has grown significantly. While cities already have released terabytes of open data, CAN aims to set higher goals for open data to make it more accessible and usable. Our cities’ open data portals must continue to evolve to meet the public’s growing and changing needs.

While specific open data portal features may vary from city to city, there are universal requirements that all local governments need for an effective open data program…

The Civic Analytics Network (CAN), a consortium of chief data officers supported by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, shares a set of guidelines for how best to advance the use of transparent government information. Among these guidelines is improving the usability and management of collected data. A guideline that, if followed, would likely prompt a spontaneous standing ovation from our otherwise calm and unflappable government auditing community.

Read more here, and go ahead and check out the Ash Center’s Data Smart City Solutions page while you’re at it.

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LinkedIn Repost – Visualizing Survey Results: Crowded Agree-Disagree Scales

There’s more than one way to visualize those agree-disagree survey scales.

Information Designer Ann Emery explores different ways to visualize agree-disagree scale survey results, and how survey feedback can be used to support a message.

Depending on what message you are trying to get across to your audience, one of the above graphs may underline the message, while the other graph undermines it (and vice versa).

Read more here.

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Oregon Office of Economic Analysis ReBlog: About that 1% revenue growth…

You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. Oregon leads the nation in revenue growth. It sounds reasonable doesn’t it? Oregon’s economy is more volatile overall and generally outperforms the typical state. In recent years we’ve been Top 10 for employment, personal income, and state GDP growth, so naturally revenues would follow suit. Well, not so fast.

Josh Lehner with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis outlines why recent reports on above average revenue growth in Oregon are misleading, and why verifying data is so important to ensuring that the information we share and use does indeed reflect reality. He also shares a bit about how the framing of data can influence the message it carries:

…there are two general statements about state revenues making the rounds. The first talks about changes from before the Great Recession through today. This is the correct way to look at the situation. The second one compares revenue growth from the depths of the crisis through today, measuring growth just in the expansion to date. This is neither a good nor useful way to measure revenue growth. Some states and some revenue streams are more volatile. Only measuring changes over part of the cycle simply muddies the water and does not lend itself to being helpful.

As auditors, we collect and use a great deal of information in the course of our audit work. Having the essential facts is powerful and informs our findings and recommendations. We take great care to ensure that we are truly learning from the data collected, and not superimposing any preformed conclusions (the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’) onto it- in other words, framing data to suit an end goal. Not everyone is so careful, but we are happy to see that the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis vigilantly adheres to the facts and how those facts are shared. Go Team! Read more here.

 

 

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Introducing OAD’s Auditor Alerts

If you follow local news, you’ve probably seen mentions of (or perhaps even read) our office’s first Auditor Alert, which was released on May 17, 2017.

The Auditor Alert, The Oregon Health Authority May Be Providing Medicaid Benefits to Ineligible Recipients, discussed substantive risks related to Medicaid eligibility determination.  This flexible reporting tool supports the Division’s goal of promoting transparency and accountability to improve Oregon government. Alerts provide decision makers with critical information so they can take action to address substantive issues in a timely manner. Alerts are also aligned with the Division’s citizen-centric reporting philosophy in that they apprise the public of critical matters in a timely fashion.

Here’s how Alerts work: our auditors occasionally uncover information during an agency audit that requires an immediate course correction and is considered too urgent to be delayed until an audit’s completion. In other instances, as in the case of the Medicaid Alert, the Division is apprised of an issue that is not within the scope of any current audit activity. In these instances, the Secretary of State may issue an Auditor Alert describing the finding, its importance, as well as give the agency and the legislature recommendations for immediate action. These Alerts are issued in a manner that is fully compliant with Government Auditing Standards.

The Division will continue working every day to ensure that state government is functioning to benefit all Oregonians. We will continue to use flexible tools and innovative reporting practices, such as Auditor Alerts, to accomplish this goal.

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Oregon Office of Economic Analysis RePost: May 2017 Forecast

As the peak season for income tax collections winds down, it has become clear that Oregon has enjoyed a good year. Although revenue trends are not as strong as what was seen earlier in the economic expansion, Oregon and its Western neighbors continue to lead the way in terms of revenue growth. A large majority of states are dealing with disappointing revenue growth that has failed to match their budget projections. In Oregon, revenue growth has outstripped expectations, putting our unique kicker law into play.

While revenue growth in Oregon has slowed down in recent months, our state economy is healthy and comparatively robust. Keep tabs on Oregon revenue trends here.

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