Heading up internal auditing in the public sector : profiling the chief audit executives (CAEs) of South African national government departments

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    The Public Finance Management Act, 1 of 1999, requires the public sector to establish internal auditing functions. The study reported in this article aimed to identify the requirements for a public sector chief audit executive (CAE). The study used a multi-stage methodology. The first stage focused on a literature review to develop a profile for a public sector CAE. The second tested the profile that was developed against the requirements of current job advertisements for CAEs in South Africa. The third identified the current profile of CAEs at national departments by means of a survey using a questionnaire to which 32 CAEs responded. In the fourth stage, the profile developed from the literature was compared to the actual profile of national departments’ CAEs. The findings show that the national department CAEs’ experience levels are in line with the profile developed, but that their academic and professional qualifications lag behind the criteria stipulated in the profile. As far as could be determined, this is the first study to profile the CAEs at national departments in the country. The results can be used to help develop more appropriate and focused career development plans for internal auditors who are already in the public sector. However, the results should be evaluated against the backdrop of the broader South African environment, where there is a shortage of skilled internal auditors, and care should be taken when considering the generalisability of the results, because the study focused only on national departments.