Four major areas are of audit interest in automatic data processing (ADP), in addition to the usual task of verifying data. These are: systems design and development, equipment acquisition, specific applications, and installation management. Benefits to be accrued from better controlled computer-based information systems include: savings, improved efficiency, and cost avoidance.
In this report, the GAO noted that although Federal agencies spend billions on computer systems, audit organizations have avoided computer-related work. This was occurring despite the fact that the audit function is recognized as an effective management tool. The study showed that a single effective audit can save the Government millions of dollars. Visits to 12 internal audit organizations were the basis for the findings in the report.
The GAO recommended that the head of each federal agency should require internal audit organizations to: (1) study the effect of ADP on agency operations, expenditures, and program accomplishments; (2) determine the extent to which computer activities need to be audited (both ongoing systems reviews and audits of specific aspects); (3) determine whether enough audit resources are available and, if not, get needed resources by training existing audit staff or hiring people with the necessary skills; (4) develop and carry out audits that will provide enough coverage to determine that resources are used efficiently, economically, and effectively; and (5) periodically review the internal audit coverage of computer-based information systems and adjust resource allocations accordingly. The Office of Management and Budget should monitor the progress of the agencies in these matters.