The Evolution of New Auditor Training at OAD

How does training impact the work of new auditors?

We provide training to our newly hired auditors because government auditing is very different than business auditing. Unfortunately, no universities specialize in this field, and even a single class is rare. We try to update and improve our training each time, but what we’ve learned in the last year about our instructional design approach has given us new insights.

First, what we taught was not specifically designed to help new performance auditors conduct their day-to-day work. We explained about preparing a good workpaper, or using our software, Teammate. But there were gaps in the framework and perspective of auditing. To address those gaps, we began to develop trainings that complemented our practical nuts and bolts offerings with courses focusing on soft skills development and leadership.

Auditing has a maze-like feeling for the new hire but we sometimes forget that there are two perspectives of a maze – the bird’s eye view, and the view from inside. From above, our eye can trace the shortest route. But inside, there are no direction markers.  Success must come by assembling a clear memory of the layout of the maze through arduous trial and error.

Inside Hampton Court Maze

Inside Hampton Court Maze

Some people enjoy the puzzle of a maze and pay to wander through corn mazes. Some have no patience for mazes. The image to the right makes some folks feel like a lab rat. And not a very smart one, since I hear that lab rats are quite capable of negotiating mazes.

But even as we think about this frustration, we also need to ’embrace the maze’. Every new audit is an agency maze. We try to understand how all the program and financial pieces fit together, and build up the picture through interviews, data analysis, and observation.

On the financial side we have workpapers and team member continuity to guide us through the maze of risks each year. On the performance side, we are often entering new agency mazes and our initial, scoping phase produces a rough drawing of the maze to help us narrow down to an issue that we should audit.

Above Hampton Court

Above Hampton Court

The other maze is our audit process.  We want newly hired auditors to be able to negotiate their way through the agency maze without also getting lost in the auditing maze. The better we can prepare new auditors in our methods and procedures, how to audit, the more they can focus on what they are auditing.

Our instructional design efforts are laying out the tasks more clearly for new hires with 11 classes so far. For example, we have training on audit documentation, interviewing, elements of a finding, sufficiency of evidence, and report writing. This knowledge and skill set are spread out, presented when a new hire will encounter them, then reinforced as they do their work.

Nonetheless, we recognize that many aspects of auditing are affected by circumstances and context that can’t be set in procedure. Strategies, priorities, principles, and standards provide general guidance in these situations. Leadership is also important and we want to help our newly promoted team leads understand the new responsibilities and situations they must take on, and perform them with competence and confidence.

We are developing that team leader training in our next phase, and some intermediate auditor training, and some technical training on specific software or analytical tools.

This seems like a lot of work but we are asking our auditors to develop and offer the classes, which involves us all in the responsibility of defining expectations, developing the content, and presenting the instruction.

We want to shorten the learning curves of our auditors because that translates into highly professional work from everybody. Staff members that have had the opportunity to take part in thorough and holistic training are a key element of a learning organization.

Auditors at Work Featured Financial Audit Performance Audit

GED Audit wins national award

Audit Manager Sheronne Blasi

Audit Manager Sheronne Blasi

We are very pleased to learn that our

Featured Noteworthy Performance Audit

In the News: Community Colleges Audit

A recently released audit by the Secretary of State Oregon Audits Division caught the attention of legislators and the general public. The audit (read the executive summary and the full report) showed that, while Oregon’s community college completion rate was lower than it needed to be to meet Oregon’s 40-40-20 initiative by 2025, the use of targeted investments could help put the state back on track for reaching that goal.

Read the Oregonian and Statesman Journal articles here.

In addition to sparking a discussion around Oregon’s community college completion rate (as well as high school and four year college completion rates), the audit has been referenced by community college leaders and legislators in regard to SB 81, a bill that would provide a tuition waiver to community college students that meet certain eligibility requirements.

Keep tuning in for further updates on the impacts of our audits on Oregon governance.

New Audit Release Performance Audit

TANF Audit Wins National Award

Congratulations to our very own Jamie Ralls, Sandy Hilton, Ian Green and Scott Learn!

An audit released last April on Oregon’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, better known as TANF, was selected as this year’s winner for a national award on excellence in accountability.

You can read the complete audit here!

The Excellence in Accountability Awards are distributed annually by the National State Auditors Association. This year, from a pool of 34 entries across four categories, the Oregon Audits Division took home the prize in large performance audits.

After interviews, extensive data analysis and reviewing more than 80 cases in-depth, the audit found that, despite budget cuts and increased workload, Oregon’s TANF program continued to successfully help dozens of clients across the state.

However, the audit also found that the program was making little to no progress in moving its clients toward self-sufficiency. Auditors identified opportunities for improvement that would help keep Oregon’s TANF program on steady ground.

The award will be presented at the 2015 NSAA Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas in June.

This marks the first time the Oregon Audits Division has won this award.

Congratulations to the team and to the other winners!

Featured Noteworthy Performance Audit