Perceived role of internal auditing in fraud prevention and detection in South African public sector national departments

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 17
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    The objective of this article was to determine whether the internal audit function (IAF) has a role to play in the prevention and detection of fraud in the South African public sector, with reference to national departments. Accordingly, the possible role of the IAF is discussed, with specific reference to fraud prevention and detection, fraud risk and reportable wasteful, irregular and unauthorised expenditure. The article presents a literature review and discusses the data gathered by means of a survey from the accounting officers (AOs), who act as heads of department (HoDs), the chairpersons of audit committees (CACs), and the chief audit executives (CAEs) of national departments in the South African public sector on their perceptions of the IAF’s role with regard to fraud. The findings show that the AOs, CACs and CAEs believe that the IAF has a responsibility to detect material fraud and reportable fruitless and wasteful, irregular or unauthorised expenditure in national government departments. Furthermore, a review of the literature suggests that the prevention and detection of fraud should remain the responsibility of the AOs, and the survey revealed that the responding AOs and CACs perceive the IAF as a management tool to detect elements of fraud. It is recommended that the AOs and the IAFs should take equal responsibility in notifying the CACs about any allegations of fraud received from any whistleblowing assurance provider. In conclusion, the article suggests avenues for further research on internal auditing’s role regarding fraud prevention and detection.