Office of Audits

Norman P. Brown
Assistant Inspector General for Audits

Mission

The Office of Audits has a leading role in helping the Department of State (Department) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) improve management; strengthen integrity and accountability; and ensure the most efficient, effective, and economical use of resources. We also provide oversight for the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico, U.S. Section (USIBWC). Our activities are global in scope, focusing on the highest priorities and the most significant management challenges of the Department and BBG. We remain at the forefront of efforts to identify potential savings and cost efficiencies for the Department and BBG, and we strive to provide timely, relevant, and useful feedback on the progress of their programs and initiatives. Our mandate includes the traditional areas of emphasis for the Department and BBG—including security, consular affairs, contracts and grants oversight, international broadcasting, administrative and financial management, and information technology—as well as new initiatives and priorities. 

The Assistant Inspector General for Audits is responsible for leading the Office of Audits, which is comprised of the Audit Directorate and the Middle East Region Operations (MERO) Directorate. The Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits is responsible for the Audit Directorate and is charged with conducting audits and program evaluations of the management and financial operations of the Department and BBG, including their financial statements, information security, internal operations, and external activities funded by the Department through contracts or Federal financial assistance. The Deputy Assistant Inspector General for MERO is responsible for the MERO Directorate and for performing engagements within the Middle East Region, covering the Department’s Bureaus of Near Eastern Affairs and South and Central Asian Affairs. The Deputy Assistant Inspector General for MERO is also responsible for general operation of overseas offices located in Kabul, Afghanistan; Islamabad, Pakistan; Baghdad, Iraq; and Frankfurt, Germany.


Audit Directorate

Contracts, Grants, and Infrastructure Division (CGI)

The Contracts, Grants, and Infrastructure (CGI) Division conducts mandated, requested, and self-generated audits and other reviews of the Department of State (Department) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and similar assistance instruments. These audits and reviews assist the Department and BBG with ensuring efficient and effective administration and oversight of contracted activities and other Federal assistance programs, and that recipients are spending Federal funds as intended, performing program activities as stipulated, and achieving desired results. In addition, CGI conducts audits to assist the Department and BBG to effectively and efficiently utilize resources to meet operational and infrastructure needs in support of their respective missions.

Financial Management Division (FM)

The Financial Management (FM) Division assists the Department of State (Department) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in achieving effective financial management of their programs and adequate accountability over their resources. FM’s responsibilities include conducting audits of financial issues, activities, and operations, including overseeing the annual financial statement audits and performing mandated audits of improper payments. In its FY 2015 financial statements, the Department accounted for approximately $66 billion in total budgetary resources and $90 billion in assets, while BBG accounted for more than $823 million in total budgetary resources and $363 million in assets.

Information Technology Division (IT)

The Information Technology Division conducts audits, reviews, and evaluations of the Department of State (Department) and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) IT management and IT security programs and initiatives. The division examines the Department’s and BBG’s efforts to protect their global IT infrastructures and reviews the effectiveness of IT security management programs at bureaus and overseas posts. The division also reviews issues related to the cost-effective acquisition, development, implementation, and management of major IT systems; telecommunications networks; and other technologies across the Department and BBG. The division assists the Department and BBG in identifying and mitigating IT risk exposure; enhancing the efficiency of critical in-house governance and regulatory compliance functions; and promoting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information systems by requiring appropriate corrective actions to address deficient internal controls.

Security and Intelligence Division (SI)

Protecting people, facilities, and information is the one of the Department of State’s (Department) highest priorities and greatest challenges, and billions of dollars are spent each year to fund these activities. The Security and Intelligence (SI) Division conducts audits, reviews, and evaluations of Department programs, policies, procedures, and organizational elements designed to protect people, facilities, and information. SI examines the management and administration of security and intelligence programs at headquarters, overseas posts, and Broadcasting Board of Governors facilities. SI seeks to find ways to help security professionals become more efficient and effective in their work at a time when staffing shortages, increased security requirements, and the demands of high-threat posts have increased the workload of Department security personnel.


Middle East Region Operations Directorate (MERO)

The Middle East Region Operations (MERO) Directorate plans, coordinates, and oversees high-cost, high-risk Department of State (Department) programs in crisis and post-conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in South and Central Asia. MERO conducts audits and evaluations of Department programs, contracts, grants, contractor performance, and procurement related activities. Specifically, MERO audits and evaluates embassy operations and personnel security, as well as the effectiveness of the Department’s foreign assistance programs related to refugees, anti-corruption, police training, and rule of law, among others. MERO currently has four overseas offices (Frankfurt, Germany; Baghdad, Iraq; Kabul, Afghanistan; and Islamabad, Pakistan) to help it achieve its mission.


Support Divisions

Audit Compliance and Followup (ACF) Division

Audit followup is an integral part of good management and is a shared responsibility of agency management officials and the Office of Inspector General. Corrective action taken by management to resolve findings and recommendations is essential to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of agency operations. The Audit Compliance and Followup (ACF) Division tracks the status of recommendations from Office of Audits reports for the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, verifies that corrective actions have been taken to implement agreed-upon findings and recommendation in reports, assists in obtaining agreement (resolution) for audit recommendations not previously agreed to by management, and coordinates followup reviews and evaluations as needed. ACF is also responsible for periodic reporting of corrective actions. These reports are included in the Office of Inspector General’s Semiannual Report, testimonies to Congress, and other communications. ACF provides statistical sampling and technical methodology support for audit teams. ACF also reviews Office of Audits draft reports for statistical and methodological soundness, clarity, and recommendation consistency.

Audit Operations Division (AO)

The Audit Operations (AO) Division’s responsibilities include conducting quality control reviews of audits, performing workforce planning and analysis for the Office of Audits, performing Contracting Officer’s Representative duties, developing and managing budget information in coordination with the Office of Inspector General’s budget office, recruiting and hiring qualified auditors and analysts, and managing the continuing professional education requirements for auditors and analysts. AO also provides editing services for all published and official documents, and a full range of administrative support to both Office of Audits directorates. AO serves as a liaison with other OIG offices and outside entities.


Audit Process

Audits determine the degree to which an organization, program, or function is effectively managed, as well as the extent to which program results are achieved. The definition for effectiveness is derived from the agency objectives, operating within the relevant laws and directives pertaining to the organization or program. The overall objective of an audit is to identify challenges impeding progress and offer solutions that address the root cause of those challenges, as well as to identify and report best management practices that can be replicated to promote operational efficiency and the effective management of all Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors programs. The audit process includes:

  • Audit notification. The audit team notifies the agency in writing that an audit is scheduled to start.
  • Entrance conference. After written notification, the audit team holds a meeting to inform the agency of the purpose, objectives, and scope of the audit and the methodology to be followed.
  • Audit fieldwork. The audit team conducts a detailed evaluation of the program, activity, or function in accordance with Government Accountability Office standards.
  • Exit conference. At the conclusion of an audit, the audit team holds a formal conference with the principal post and bureau officials to present the audit results. This provides an opportunity for the audit team and the auditee to discuss the audit findings and the recommendations offered to address the root cause of the challenges identified.

During the audit, the auditee is kept apprised of audit activities. Office of Inspector General management is provided a detailed briefing before the audit begins and at the conclusion of audit fieldwork. Following the exit conference, the audit team prepares a draft report, which is vetted for comment and clearance within OIG. The auditee then typically has up to 10 business days to provide comments on the draft report and to specify whether it agrees with the report’s recommendations and with the amount of any potential monetary benefits or recoveries. Those comments are incorporated into the final report. The auditee has 30 days from issuance of the final report to provide information on actions planned and taken to implement the recommendations.

 

OIG Overview video - AUD (text)

I’m Norman Brown, the Assistant IG for Audits. The Office of Audits assesses whether an organization, program, or function is effectively managed and whether it actually achieves results. We determine ‘effectiveness’ based on the agency’s objectives, and whether the Department or BBG comply with applicable laws, regulations and directives. The overall objective of an audit is to identify challenges impeding progress and to offer solutions that address the root cause of those challenges. We also identify and report best management practices that can be replicated to promote operational efficiency and the effective management of all Department and BBG programs. The audit process includes: an Audit notification – where the agency is notified about the start of an audit; an Entrance Conference – where the audit’s object and scope are discussed; audit fieldwork; and an Exit conference where the audit team holds a formal conference with the principal post and bureau officials to present the audit results. During the audit, we keep the auditee apprised of our activities. After the exit conference, the audit team prepares a draft report, which is reviewed internally within OIG. The auditee then typically has up to 10 business days to provide comments on the draft report and to state whether it agrees with the report’s content and its recommendations. Those comments are incorporated into the final report. The Department and the BBG then have 30 days from issuance of the final report to provide information on actions planned and taken to implement the recommendations.

The Office of Audits consists of several divisions focused on particular subject areas, including Contracts and Grants, Financial Management, Information Technology and Security and Intelligence. It also includes the Middle East Region Operations Directorate which plans, coordinates, and oversees high-cost, high-risk Department programs in crisis and post-conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa and in South and Central Asia.