Government auditors often don’t get the respect they deserve. Not only do they contend with notoriously tight budgets and limited staff, but they also work in a politically charged environment where policies and procedures often are anchored in the shifting sands of political will, rather than in best practices. Doing the right thing can be especially difficult when it runs counter to a popularly held opinion. As I have noted before, we all have an interest in their success, because they are “the guardians of public trust.”
In the private sector, the free market fosters a robust support system of conferences and consultancies for internal auditors. Outside a handful of networking organizations, however, there isn’t much in the way of resources devoted to the study and practice of government auditing.
That is, until now.
Recognizing the specialized needs for education, certification, knowledge sharing, and networking of this underserved and vitally important group, The IIA recently launched the American Center for Government Auditing (ACGA).
Headed by James Pelletier, most recently City Auditor of Palo Alto, Calif., and previously Chief Auditor of San Diego (Calif.) County, ACGA is one of a handful of specialized content areas within The IIA. The center is tailored to the limited travel budgets and unique training needs of government auditors.
The IIA’s 10,000 or so current public-sector members in the United States are being granted automatic membership into the ACGA. We already have practitioners working on content, including regular briefings on best practices and timely topics of interest.
Having spent most of my career in public-sector audit, I can attest that the ACGA addresses a critical need, not only for our existing members, but for all of the estimated 100,000 government-sector auditors out there at the local, state, and federal levels. I wish I’d had a resource like this.
The ACGA will not detract from or compete with the important work already being done by the Association of Local Government Auditors; the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers; the Council of Inspectors General; and the intergovernmental audit forums. In fact, over time, we hope our efforts will help each of these groups serve its members better and that we will work together to the general benefit of our common constituents—much like we already work with many other internal audit organizations. A rising tide lifts all boats.
As CEO of The IIA, I know that the ACGA fills an important service gap for our profession. As a veteran of government audit, I am particularly gratified to lead the launch of this service on behalf of The IIA’s North American Board. I see it as a tribute and validation of the efforts of every city or county auditor who has ever had to face down a vindictive elected official, and to every federal auditor who has toiled diligently in anonymity only to catch fire for a single, politically charged finding that was of little import in the grand scheme of things.
We welcome Jim, and we welcome those of you in government auditing to the ACGA. I hope you will find the center to be of great service. You will be hearing much more very soon and, as always, I welcome your thoughts.