In all organisation, the external auditor provides an independent review of its financial statements. The external auditor will send management letters which set-out the failings/weaknesses found during the external audit. Unless these weaknesses or failings are material, the auditors will issue a clean/unqualified/unmodified report. Management are required to prepare responses to the management letter points made. Often, the audit committee will then oversee the implementation of the external auditor’s management letter recommendations which the auditors will follow up on the following year.
The external audit of non-commercial state bodies in Ireland is carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General of Ireland (C&AG).
The C&AG provides assurance to the general public on whether public money is properly administered and well spent. It does so by providing independent confirmation of the financial accuracy of the accounts of public sector organisations, the regularity of transactions, the proper conducting of public business and that the organisation achieves value for money.
Effectively, there are three types of audits undertaken by the C&AG:
The C&AG provide an opinion that accounts are accurate and in agreement with entries in ledgers and other accounting records.
The C&AG examine and report on whether transactions by the audited body are in accordance with rules and regulations governing them and funds are applied for the intended purposes.
The C&AG carries out Value For Money examinations. These are discretionary, and provide independent assurance in relation to the economic and efficient use of public monies and other resources as well as the extent to which the public body under examination evaluates the effectiveness of its own operations.
Local Government Audit Service
Local government auditors undertake independent external financial audits of local authorities and are required to give an audit opinion on the annual financial statements of local authorities and other audited bodies.In addition to the audit opinion, it is custom and practice to issue statutory audit reports to the elected members on the major audits, covering any matter or matters which the auditors feels should be reported. The chief executive of a local authority is required to respond to this report and his/her comments may be included as part of the final report, which is an important part of public accountability.
Auditors also send management letters to assist local authorities in improving their accounting and internal control systems as part of the external audit process.