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Framework of Auditor Roles and Practices with Respect to Performance Measurement

Government auditors can use this framework to determine how to strengthen performance management and accountability by implementing any of these practices.

  • Quick Links to Descriptions, Examples, and Tools for All Roles and Practices

This framework was first published in the guidebook Auditor Roles in Government Performance Measure­ment (“2004 Guide”) by The Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation.

The five roles and related practices were developed from auditors’ responses to surveys and interviews, their reports and methodologies, and an analysis of the 67 exemplary practices published in the 2004 Guide from local, state, and provincial audit organizations across North America.  In other words, the framework is experienced-based: it works in practice.

While careful distinctions are structured into the roles and practices, they are not 100 percent mutually exclusive.  This is a “working set” of roles and practices, subject to change as future research follows the evolution of auditors’ performance measurement-related efforts over time.


Auditing or Assessing Performance or Performance Management Systems

This is a traditional role for many auditors who conduct studies of services, programs, systems, or practices and make recommendations for improvement. The emphasis here is on auditing program or service performance or the systems or practices that support performance management of a government program, agency, or entire entity.

Descriptions and examples of:

Assessing the Quality of Performance Information or Performance Reports

This is a traditional role for auditors in that it involves evaluating the quality of information to assess its usefulness and the risks of using the data.  For performance measurement information, “quality” is condensed here to “relevance” and “reliability” of performance measures and data.  For performance reports, quality refers to the relevance and reliability of reported information plus the adequacy of reports for meeting user needs, particularly the needs of elected officials and citizens.  Audit organizations often use detailed criteria to determine relevance, reliability, and adequacy.  Many examples and tools at this website provide a sampling of criteria, audit steps, and audit programs used by audit offices for these practices.

Descriptions and examples of:

For Practice 2c. Support external review: Support external review processes to assess and improve performance information or reporting … No examples are currently provided for this practice.  This was listed as “a potential future practice” in the 2004 Guide, in view of the “Certificate of Achievement” review process for performance reporting established by the Association of Government Accountants.  Auditors have since taken part in that process, so we expect to have examples of this practice when the website is updated in the future.


Developing Performance Measures or Measuring Performance, Outside the Traditional Audit Process

In playing Role 3 auditors work outside the traditional audit process (though some auditors consider these projects to be audits) to develop relevant performance measures or collect data to assess performance. In this role, auditors may either provide assistance in developing relevant performance measures or may identify measures themselves from various sources. They may help establish performance expectations by assessing performance targets, by providing benchmarks or other sources of targets, or by assessing an organization’s process of setting expectations. Auditors may also collect data for assessing performance and report the results. Auditors often collect and report data on perceptions and satisfaction of external or internal stakeholders of public services.

Descriptions and examples of:

Planning, Designing, Improving, or Advocating for Performance Management Systems and Their Use

In role 4 auditors encourage or assist managers and other internal stakeholders in developing or improving one or more of an organization’s performance management systems or the managing for results processes that depend on them. Encouragement can come in many forms, such as audit recommendations, informal discussions, exposure to best practices, or proposals for improvement.  Assistance may include advising in designing, purchasing, or improving the performance management systems and the managing for results processes.  In providing assistance auditors may work alone or serve on a team with management representatives. Other assistance practices include training internal stakeholders to develop or use performance measurement systems or their components, ensuring adequate system controls, and providing analyses or interpretations of performance information.

Descriptions and examples of:

External Reporting, Capacity Building, or Advocacy for the Use of Performance Information

Role 5 includes auditor involvement in advocacy, communication, and assistance to citizens, non-executive elected officials, or other external stakeholders. Other external stakeholders include, for example, interest groups, government contractors and grantees (non-profit and for profit), and the media. Five different auditor practices are encompassed in this role, including: advocating for adoption or improvement of performance management systems, reporting on government performance, helping external stakeholders use performance information, and engaging citizens through focus groups and other processes in shaping or determining public goals, objectives, or performance measures.  While Practice 5e. Assess citizen engagement is considered a “potential future practice” related to performance measurement, examples have been identified of auditors assessing citizen engagement in other matters, which are included here as potential “precursors” of practice 5e.

Descriptions and examples of: