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ROLE 1: Audit Performance or PM Systems:

Practice 1b. Audit performance management systems: Audit or assess existing performance management systems or practices.

Alberta Auditor General [Profile]

Since 2004, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has carried out “Managing for Results” audits for selected ministries that focus on business planning, performance measurement and human resource systems.  Audit criteria for each are summarized here.  See “tools” below for the OAG’s detailed criteria for Managing for Results audits.

Managing for Results audits recognize that business planning is an important element of the government’s accountability framework, and effective business planning processes establish goals and maximize the probability of achieving those goals.  The audit criteria used set out the key elements and characteristics of a ministry business plan and expected good processes for developing and implementing the plan. Examples of criteria include clearly defining mission and core business goals; incorporating past performance and involving staff and stakeholders in the planning process; linking goals and strategies to budget decisions; and monitoring plan implementation to ensure that risks to achievement are managed effectively.

For auditing performance information, the OAG uses three types of audit criteria:

  • Criteria relating to general-purpose external performance reports such as a ministry annual report.  Sample criteria of this type include:
    • The information reported is significant to assessments and decisions to be made and provide an indication of the sustainability of the performance of an organization;
    • Reports focus on results and achievements and, as far as possible, explain the linkage between achievements and activities;
    • Performance reports are prepared using a well-defined process that provides adequate guidance to those responsible for preparing the performance report.
  • Criteria for the relevance of measures to goals, which focus on both the logical relationship between the performance information used and the goals of the organization, as well as the timeliness in which the information is reported.
  • Criteria for individual measures, including criteria relating to reliability, understandability, and comparability.

The audit criteria for human resources include criteria for employee performance management systems, including organizational performance, employee performance management, rewards and recognition, and evaluation of the performance management framework.

Audit staff use professional judgment in applying the criteria. They consider the relevance of each criterion to the particular engagement.  In exercising judgment, auditors consider the ministry size, nature of the related sector, and ministry culture and practices, as well as informal and formal processes used by the ministry. The OAG prepares a report for each managing for results project that not only recommends improvements, but also describes the good practices noted during the audit. There has been favorable response to reporting of good practices.  Such reports have been widely read and circulated by ministries.


Tools:

The Office of the Auditor General’s Managing for Results Audit Criteria (January 2005)