“ACL Analytics Exchange 2.0 will allow our agency to automate analytic testing and quickly find anomalies for further review. An auditor can run an analytic, get the exceptions in a report, and make a judgment call about what further action needs to be taken – all within a secure server environment that will facilitate agency-wide collaboration.”
The North Carolina Office of the State Auditor (OSA) independently evaluates the state’s financial records and public program performance. The OSA also assesses the security and integrity of state information technology systems and responds to allegations of fraud, waste and abuse received via hotline. The OSA provides advice to the legislature on the operation of all aspects of state government, court clerks, the university system and community colleges.
With a department of 150 audit professionals, statewide coverage including nine branch offices, and a demanding audit mandate, the OSA needs a technology solution that promotes audit consistency and effectiveness, enables the team to efficiently document audit activities, and perform faster automated testing – without the need to rely on audit technology specialists.
Working with ACL Consulting Services, the OSA recently completed a successful implementation of beta ACL Analytics Exchange 2.0 (AX). The OSA had previously begun implementing Analytics Exchange 1.0, but upgraded to beta Analytics Exchange 2.0 in order to take advantage of its powerful new features.
The Analytics Exchange 2.0 beta implementation focused on converting and deploying the OSA’s existing ACL scripts on the Analytics Exchange 2.0 platform. The OSA also tested Analytics Exchange 2.0 capabilities to centrally access very large data sources and update data within the AX repository, and explored opportunities to implement new analytics as the auditors gain proficiency with Analytics Exchange 2.0.
With on-site assistance from ACL consultants, the OSA successfully migrated a subset of its existing ACL audit scripts to the Analytics Exchange 2.0 platform. The process went smoothly, but the team says the consultants provided critical expertise that significantly accelerated the migration process. The ACL consultant had the experience and technical background to ensure the existing scripts were configured to the new platform environment.
Previously data extraction and storage capabilities on a key data file required about four hours to update each month. Now the update can be completed and available for audit use in just 15 minutes – a significant time savings.
The OSA plans to support its standard audit program – which includes integration with workpapers – and store approved analytics through the AX Core repository. The team is still completing the Analytics Exchange 2.0 rollout, but if the testing phase is a success they expect that staff will be able to access the repository directly over a secure web browser connection using AX Gateway. This is a new Analytics Exchange component that enables team members to share results, view others’ work and perform analytics required to support a particular audit program. Whether working in one of the nine OSA branch offices or in the field, auditors will be able to independently access automated ACL analytics, immediately perform targeted data testing, and quickly share the results with other team members.
Additionally, the Analytics Exchange 2.0 testing phase sparked productive discussions among the OSA audit team, helping staff and managers prioritise the development of new analytics to promote efficiencies throughout the audit cycle.
As the OSA automates repetitive data analyses with ACL Analytics Exchange 2.0, the team expects to increase its coverage and deliver greater audit consistency. Tests will be able to more efficiently and effectively target larger data populations and quickly reveal anomalies for further investigation. Audit activities that were previously impractical to perform on a standalone machine can now be leveraged with little extra time or additional resources.
The OSA is eager to promote best practices through shared information, automated testing, and supporting documentation. The AX Core and AX Gateway components will enable audit managers to better control the development and maintenance of ACL analytics. Both data analysis specialists and general auditors will now have an efficient, secure way to integrate data analysis within their audits. For the OSA, Analytics Exchange 2.0 is a multi-faceted solution that will promote greater cohesion and confidence across its diverse audit team.