Audio - internal audit for local government organisations

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


In 2006 a number of Public Centres for Social Welfare (PCSW – a local government organisation that delivers social services to citizens, for more information sociale) wanted to implement internal audit within their organisations. Traditionally, organisations are faced with two options in these circumstances. The first option is to organise an internal audit department within each organisation. While this may be a viable choice for delivering audits that fit within the organisational culture of Public Centres for Social Welfare, most of the PCSWs were too small for this. The second option is to outsource internal auditing to a third party (e.g. one of the Big Four firms). As activities of the public sector are not the core competence of the Big Four, there was a risk that audit recommendations were not compatible with the specific structure and culture of the PCSWs. Twelve of the biggest PCSWs in Flanders (northern region in Belgium) chose an innovative third option: the creation of an organisation that performed internal audit services in the 12 member organisations. This organisation was called ‘Audio’. While this project was originally conceived as an experiment, in 2010 its member organisations decided to continue the project. Meanwhile, the number of member organisations has grown from 12 to 27. In addition to the PCSWs, the first cities are now joining the project (Turnhout, Eeklo). Audio has a strategy of gradual growth. A maximum quota is fixed for new members to join Audio every year. This organisation was called ‘Audio’.

Legally, Audio is an ‘organisation Title 8 of the PCSW decree’. This basically means that Audio is a cooperation between local governments. Audio is different from traditional audit organisations (e.g. the Big Four) as it works only for local government organisations. Because Audio is a public sector organisation, making profit is not one of the goals. Members pay for each audit, thus covering the costs. The costs are lower than the costs of private sector alternatives, because of the accumulation of specialised knowledge.

The goal of the organisation is to organise professional audit services for its members, and to stimulate the transfer of knowledge between the members (e.g. by performing the same audit in all member organisations). Audio offers an innovative and cost-effective way of organising internal audit in local government; competences and sectorspecific knowledge are centralised within a strong team of auditors; productivity is higher because of the possibility to audit similar services in all or most of the member organisations; and the costs for the member organisations are minimised due to learning effects, VAT exemption and the non-profit nature of Audio.

The results of a recent satisfaction survey show that existing members are very satisfied with the service offered by Audio.

Award info
Award category: smart public service delivery
Award type: submission
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Public health and social welfare/affairs
Type of activity:
Keywords: Internal audit, audio, internal control
Short English description: The goal of the organisation is to organise professional audit services for its members, and to stimulate the transfer of knowledge between the members.
Further information
Organisation: Audio
Other applicants:
Level of government: local level
Size of organisation: 1-25
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Belgium
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

Audio - internal audit for local government organisations (50.8687871, 4.3660747)
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