Policy on Results: What is the difference between Evaluation and Internal Audit in the federal government?
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Evaluation and Internal Audit are two powerful tools for supporting management decision making. Understanding the difference between the two can help ensure effective use of each tool and, as a result, contribute to quality decision making.
This note explores the goals of these two functions and compares and contrasts them.
Goals of Evaluation
An evaluation in the Government of Canada is a systematic and neutral collection and analysis of evidence to judge merit, worth or value. It determines the extent to which a program or project has achieved expected results. Evaluation informs decision making, improvements, innovation and accountability.
- Focus on questions related to relevance, effectiveness and efficiency. Evaluations measure programmatic results and contribute to the assessment of results achievement.
- Aim to inform decision making, improvements, innovation and accountability and, depending on user needs, can focus on other themes and issues including alternatives to existing interventions. Evaluations also facilitate learning and innovation.
- Ask ‘Are we doing the right things?’
Goals of Internal Audit
Internal audit in the Government of Canada is a professional, independent and objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization's operations. It helps an organization accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to assessing and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.
- Focus on management systems, processes and procedures, including the integrity of financial and non-financial information. The results of internal audit engagements help identify emerging issues and make recommendations for the improvement of management practices.
- Aim to support deputy heads in their role as accounting officeFootnote 1, by contributing directly and proactively to improving risk management, control and governance; and to ensure that deputy heads receive assurance and advice from their departmental audit committees and internal audit function to inform decision making in their departments.
- Ask ‘Are we doing things right?’
Comparison between Evaluation and Performance Audit
Certain types of evaluation (e.g. formative evaluations) are similar to performance audits, in that they both examine a program’s processes including efficiency and economy using both similar and different approaches. However, unlike evaluations, performance audits do not measure results achievement but, rather, focus on management practices, controls and reporting systems. Furthermore, these performance audits do not question issues such as relevance of government policies.
Differences between Evaluation and Internal Audit
The following table outlines further differences between Evaluation and Internal Audit in federal organizations in response to some basic questions.
|Who does it?||
|Who oversees it?||
Performance Measurement and Evaluation Committee
Departmental Audit Committeetable 1 note 3
|When is it done?||
|How is it carried out?||
|How are Programs involved?||
|What are the key requirements for small departments and agencies (SDAs) with regard to Evaluation and Internal Audit?||
Table 1 Notes
- Policy on Results and supporting tools
- Policy on Internal Audit and supporting tools
- ‘Performance Audits’ section of the website of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
All sources are under public domain.
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