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Internal Audit / Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions


What is an audit?

According to Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, “… audits are defined as engagements that provide assurance or conclusions based on an evaluation of sufficient, appropriate evidence against stated criteria, such as specific requirements, measures, or defined business practices.”

Who uses the audit reports?

Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards state, “… audits provide objective analysis so that management and those charged with governance and oversight can use the information to improve program performance and operations, reduce costs, facilitate decision making by parties with responsibility to oversee or initiate corrective action, and contribute to public accountability.”

How can I get a copy of a report?

When reports are issued, they are distributed to the management of the area in which the audit was performed. Other County officials receive notice and may be included in the distribution. These reports are public documents and can be requested by contacting the Internal Auditor at (360) 676-6740 ext. #(pound key) 50049. We can provide reports in the portable document file (.pdf) format or a hardcopy format. A small fee may be charged for printed copies.

How are audits selected?

The Internal Auditor selects audits based on all of the following factors:

  1. Assessment of risk;
  2. Potential benefit to the County and citizens;
  3. The Internal Auditor’s own skills and knowledge resources; and
  4. Budgetary and/or time constraints

Does the Internal Auditor perform the financial statements audit?

No. The State Auditor's performs the financial statements audit, as well as the Federal Single audit and an accountability audit each year. The Internal Audit Division does not duplicate their work.

Is the Internal Audit Division organizationally independent to report to citizens?

The Internal Audit Division is organizationally independent to report to citizens for audit work performed in all Whatcom County departments with the exception of audit work related to the operations of the Auditor’s Office.

Audit work performed in the Auditor’s Office may still be reported to the citizens, however, the audit cannot be reported as an independent audit.

Is management allowed to refuse an audit?

No, management is not allowed to refuse an audit.

Based on Whatcom County Code 3.09.030, the internal audit system has the authority and function to audit all programs, services and accounts which come under the budgeting authority of the county, and all officers and employees must furnish information and records that the auditor may request in order to fulfill this function.

Management is allowed to work with the Internal Auditor to resolve difficult issues that might inhibit the performance of an audit.

If management refuses an audit, an audit report will be issued and presented to the County Council, County Executive, and the County Auditor describing the intended audit objectives and management’s refusal, as understood by the Internal Auditor.

Does management have to agree with audit findings, conclusions or recommendations?

No, management does not have to agree.

To ensure audit reports are fair, complete, and objective the reporting process allows for a time in which management and the Internal Auditor can discuss audit results prior to a final report, to provide for any necessary clarifications.

Can management request non-audit assistance from the Internal Audit Division?

Yes, management may use the Internal Auditor as a business advisor. The Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards provide the following examples of advisory services:

a. participating in activities such as commissions, committees, task forces, panels, and focus groups as an expert in a purely advisory, nonvoting capacity to:

(1) advise entity management on issues based on the auditors’ knowledge or
(2) address urgent problems;

b. providing tools and methodologies, such as guidance and good business practices, benchmarking studies, and internal control assessment methodologies that can be used by management; and

c. providing targeted and limited technical advice to the audited entity and management to assist them in activities such as (1) answering technical questions or providing training, (2) implementing audit recommendations, (3) implementing internal controls, and (4) providing information on good business practices.

The Internal Auditor will not make decisions or produce products for management for which they are responsible.



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