Staffing of public sector internal audit functions at national departments in South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Governance codes in public sector legislation in South Africa have contributed considerably to accelerated growth in public sector internal auditing in national departments. In consequence, accounting officers (AOs), who are the heads of department (HoDs) of national departments, have been tasked with establishing and/or improving the staffing of public sector internal audit functions (IAFs), in order to enable the IAFs to fulfil the role of public sector internal auditing, as stipulated by South African legislation and professional standards. The objectives of the study reported in this article were to determine the staffing situation in public sector IAFs, and whether there was a statistically significant gap between the numbers of filled internal auditor posts by staff level, compared to the ideal number of internal auditors’ posts at these public sector IAFs, as perceived by the chief audit executives (CAEs). The research methodology followed was a quantitative descriptive method combined with statistical analysis to analyse and interpret the data. The research instrument used to obtain the research data was a quantitative research questionnaire distributed to the CAEs of national departments of the South African government. The survey revealed that the number of internal auditors’ posts filled (staffing levels and posts) at public sector IAFs was inadequate, according to CAEs perceptions regarding the ideal number of posts to be filled. However, when the perceived ideal staffing complement was compared to the approved staffing complement of public sector IAFs, no significant difference between the two variables was found. The article concludes that deficiencies in the current staffing complement of public sector IAFs can be attributed to a lack of human resources planning, particularly in respect of succession planning, as shown by the large percentages of vacant internal auditors’ posts at three of the four internal auditor levels.