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2050 Advisory Committee Meetings
During the course of a performance audit or a special examination, advisory committee meetings may be organized with external advisers to seek advice and feedback on the audit, the objective, the scope and approach, the issues to be reported, etc. These advisory committee meetings are usually held in person, but if not possible, other options such as a video or teleconference are considered.
CSAE 3001 Requirements
37. The engagement partner shall take responsibility for the overall quality on the engagement. This includes responsibility for:
(e) Appropriate consultation being undertaken by the engagement team on difficult or contentious matters.
CSAE 3001 Application Material
A82. The exercise of professional judgment in any particular case is based on the facts and circumstances that are known by the practitioner. Consultation on difficult or contentious matters during the course of the engagement, both within the engagement team and between the engagement team and others at the appropriate level within or outside the firm, assist the practitioner in making informed and reasonable judgments.
A202. Documentation may include a record of, for example:
- The nature and scope of, and conclusions resulting from, consultations undertaken during the course of the engagement.
The audit team shall hold advisory committee meetings with external and internal advisers during the planning phase and near the end of the examination phase of an audit, unless the engagement risk assessment shows otherwise. The decision to not conduct advisory committee meetings shall be documented and approved by the engagement leader. [Nov-2015]
The audit team shall document consultations with advisers and the disposition of key advice received. [Nov-2015]
Selection of external advisory committee members
External committee members are selected on the basis of their skills, expertise, relevant knowledge, and experience. External advisers are generally recognized as leaders in their fields of expertise. Typically, advisory committees have two or three external advisers who bring different perspectives to the subject matter.
Before organizing a first advisory committee meeting, the audit team contacts the external advisers in writing to inform them of their roles and responsibilities, the requirements for independence and confidentiality, and the need to declare any conflict of interest (OAG Audit 3031 Independence). In some audits, advisory committee members may be selected because of their particular perspectives on the subject matter being audited and, therefore, are not completely independent. The audit team must be aware of this when considering the advice received.
Advisory committees and engagement risk assessment
The need to organize advisory committee meetings is driven by a risk assessment that is conducted by the audit team during the planning phase (OAG Audit 4020 Risk assessment).
If the audit team assesses the risk of an inappropriate audit conclusion as low, it may be judged not necessary to hold a planning phase and/or an examination phase advisory committee meeting. The reasons to modify this approach must be documented in the engagement risk assessment template and approved by the engagement leader.
If no planning phase advisory committee and/or no examination phase advisory committee meeting is held with external advisers, the engagement leader may wish to hold internal meetings to obtain advice and guidance from internal advisers, relevant internal specialists, and the assistant auditor general.
Disposition of advice received from advisory committee meetings
After each advisory committee meeting, the audit team is required to prepare a document indicating the disposition of advice received from the meeting. The team is not required to provide external advisers with this information. The engagement leader ensures that appropriate action is taken to address all advice received.
Planning phase advisory committee meeting
The objective of the planning phase advisory committee meeting is to provide advice to the audit team on the scope and approach, significance of issues, and lines of enquiry. This advisory committee meeting is held before finalizing the audit logic matrix (OAG Audit 4044 Developing the audit strategy: audit logic matrix). This ensures that changes to the audit scope and approach occur at the appropriate time in the planning process and before the start of examination work.
A draft of a high-level audit logic matrix and any other relevant information are usually sent to the advisory committee for discussion. Advisers are asked to provide general comments on the audit design and to reflect on the following elements:
whether the proposed audit areas are appropriate and of interest to Parliament;
whether the selected systems and practices (for special examinations) are key for the Crown corporation in meeting its statutory control objectives and in achieving its mandate;
whether audit objectives, scope, lines of enquiry, and criteria are appropriate, and whether there are aspects that can be improved or changed;
whether there are any missing key issues or risks; and
whether any other points should be discussed concerning this audit.
The Auditor General should always be invited to attend the advisory committee meeting. The meeting invitation is also extended to the assistant auditor general, and relevant internal specialists.
If the Auditor General cannot attend, he will be briefed on the audit plan during the Auditor General briefing, at the end of the planning phase. For further information, see OAG Audit 2040 Discussions with the Auditor General.
At the discretion of the engagement leader, the Auditor General could be invited to the advisory committee meeting if deemed relevant in the circumstances. The meeting invitation is also extended to the assistant auditor general.
After the meeting, the audit logic matrix is updated with any required changes, and when the final version receives the engagement leader’s sign-off, the team prepares the audit plan summary (OAG Audit 4090 Audit plan summary for performance audits) or the special examination plan (OAG Audit 4100 Special examination plan).
Examination phase advisory committee meeting
The objective of the examination phase advisory committee meeting is to discuss the results of the examination work and seek advice and feedback on the messages and tone of the internal draft audit report.
The internal draft and any other relevant information are sent to the advisory committee for discussion. Ideally, at this point, this draft includes all pertinent sections of the audit report, including the introduction, observations and recommendations, conclusions, and a section about the audit (OAG Audit 7030 Drafting the audit report).
Advisers are asked to provide general comments on the internal draft and to reflect on where the team needs advice, for example:
- Are the issues reported significant, and the recommendations and conclusions appropriate?
- Does the internal draft convey the right message and is it convincing?
- Is the tone fair?
The Auditor General should always be invited to attend the advisory committee meeting, whether it is for a performance audit or a special examination. The meeting invitation is also extended to the assistant auditor general and relevant internal specialists.
After the meeting, the audit team prepares the PX draft (OAG Audit 7030 Drafting the audit report).