Public Audit 101

What is an Audit?

It is an independent verification of an entity' s financial statements as well as non-financial information, undertaken to ascertain fairness and accuracy of all financial transactions carried out by the said entity. This task is undertaken by an independent expert, who then expresses an opinion on the subject matter (financial statements verified).

Who is the Auditor General?

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is an independent office established under Article 229 of the Constitution of Kenya and mandated to audit all public-funded entities at both national and county levels. This independent office is headed by Auditor General.

Who is audited and who isn't?

The OAG is charged with the primary oversight role of ensuring accountability within the three arms of government as well as County governments, constitutional commissions and independent offices, public debt, and accounts of political parties funded from public funds. The constitution mandates the OAG to audit and report its findings to the Parliament and County Assemblies appropriately. The OAG's mandate does not extend to private entities.

audit process
Type of Audit What it is
Regulatory/Financial Audit This audit focuses on determining whether an entity’s financial information is presented in accordance with the regulatory framework as well as applicable financial reporting framework.
Forensic Audit This is undertaken to establish fraud, embezzlement or other financial misappropriations, and is undertaken for use as evidence in a court of law.
Performance Audit It involves the assessment of government ministries, departments and agencies or government programmes’ use of public resources in line with the 4 E’s:
  • Efficiency
  • Economy
  • Equity
  • Effectiveness
Information Technology / System Audit It’s a part of an audit that reviews the computerized elements of an accounting information system. The audit assesses the following:
  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Availability of Systems
  • Non-repudiation
Periodic Audits The Auditor General may conduct these audits at their own initiative, or upon request, with the aim of preventing and deterring fraud and corrupt practices, as well as establishing the effectiveness of risk management and governance processes within state organs and public entities.
Audit Opinion What it means
Unqualified It means that the financial statements are clean and give a true and fair view iof the financial position of a public entity.
Qualified Opinion It means that the financial statements are, by and large, fairly presented. However, there are specific discrepancies which could include: an incorrect accounting policy, unrecoverable debts, misstated inventories, or a discrepancy not recurring in the financial statements
Adverse Opinion It means that the financial misstatements, individually or in aggregate, are both material and pervasive to the financial statements. Simply put, the report is bad.
Disclaimer of Opinion This means that the Auditor General was unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence upon which to base an opinion. In short, the available financial statement could not be relied upon to warrant an opinion. This is the worst form of opinion the Auditor General can issue.
Reason for Qualification What it means
Pending Bills These are bills not settled or paid by an entity throughout the reporting period/financial year. It is a problem because agencies are only authorized to spend for one year at a time. Bills carried forward to a new year mean that agencies are determining their own budgets, which is unlawful.
Unsupported Expenditure In the absence of proper records and documentation, the Auditor General cannot be sure whether the expenditure is valid and follows the laid-out procedures.
Excess Expenditure This means spending over and above what was approved by the National Assembly or County Assembly
Non-surrender of Imprest Imprest are a form of cash advance or float issued to officers to cater for expenses such as travelling, accommodation and incidental expenses, which must be accounted for promptly.
Unauthorized Expenditure The Public Finance Management Act of 2012 requires that all expenses in public institutions be authorized beforehand. The absence of approvals for expenditures warrants a qualification by the Auditor General.
Poor management of Assets Mismanagement of the schedule of assets within public entities is a contravention of section 72 of the Public Finance Management Act of 2012
Poor Asset Management (Lack of Asset Registers, Irregular Disposal of Assets etc) Proper asset management enables institutions meet the required standard of service in the most cost- effective way, thus ensuring long-term sustainability of the organization. The lack of asset registers therefore contravenes Article 227 on efficient use of public resources, as well as the Public Procurement and Disposal Act of 2015 on the management of asset registers.