Headlines: April 19th, 2001

A new report from the Public Audit Forum (PAF) argues that, with clear risk assessment by auditors, electronic service delivery need not lead to a loss of accountability. There are fears among some working in the public sector that the increasing moves to electronic service delivery, as set out in the Modernising Government Agenda, could lead to a lack of control and accountability.The new report tries to address those concerns, by pointing out that delivering services over electronic networks does not result in new audit objectives, but in new risks that need to be addressed. It sets out how electronic service delivery affects audit, the importance of information security standards to audit evidence; and how auditors need to respond to the new challenge.

It urges auditors to embrace change rather than fear its consequences, join-up their work with other auditors when auditing joined-up services, and to prepare themselves professionally so that they are able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of controls in an electronic service delivery context.

Also included are examples of the different security mechanisms to protect data and information on risk areas particularly relevant to electronic service delivery and the controls auditors expect clients to employ.

PAF represents the six national audit agencies: National Audit Office, Audit Commission, Auditor General for Scotland, Accounts Commission for Scotland, Auditor General for Wales and the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

Link: www.public-audit-forum.gov.uk