The Office of Audits supports the Department of State (Department) and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) to improve management; strengthen integrity and accountability; and ensure the most efficient, effective, and economical use of resources. The Office of Audit also provides oversight for the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico, U.S. Section (USIBWC). Activities are global in scope, focusing on the highest priorities and the most significant management challenges of the Department and USAGM. Areas of concern include physical security at overseas posts; financial management and IT security and management; contracts, acquisition, and grants management; human capital and administrative issues; and high-risk programs and operations in frontline states.
Audits determine the degree to which an organization, program, or function is effectively managed, as well as the extent to which program results are achieved. The definition for effectiveness is derived from the agency objectives, operating within the relevant laws and directives pertaining to the organization or program. The overall objective of an audit is to identify challenges impeding progress and offer solutions that address the root cause of those challenges, as well as to identify and report best management practices that can be replicated to promote operational efficiency and the effective management of all Department and USAGM programs. The audit process includes:
- Audit notification. The audit team notifies the agency in writing that an audit is scheduled to start.
- Entrance conference. After written notification, the audit team holds a meeting to inform the agency of the purpose, objectives, and scope of the audit and the methodology to be followed.
- Audit fieldwork. The audit team conducts a detailed evaluation of the program, activity, or function in accordance with Government Accountability Office standards.
- Exit conference. At the conclusion of an audit, the audit team holds a formal conference with the principal post and bureau officials to present the audit results. This provides an opportunity for the audit team and the auditee to discuss the audit findings and the recommendations offered to address the root cause of the challenges identified.
During the audit, the auditee is kept apprised of audit activities. OIG management is provided a detailed briefing before the audit begins and at the conclusion of audit fieldwork. The audit team prepares a draft report, which is vetted for comment and clearance within OIG. The auditee typically has up to 14 calendar days after the draft report is issued to provide comments on the draft report and to specify whether it agrees with the report’s recommendations and with the amount of any potential monetary benefits or recoveries. Those comments are incorporated into the final report. The auditee has 30 days from issuance of the final report to provide information on actions planned and taken to implement the recommendations.
The Assistant Inspector General for Audits is responsible for leading the Office of Audits, which is comprised of the Audit Directorate and the Middle East Region Operations (MERO) Directorate. The Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits is responsible for the Audit Directorate and is charged with conducting audits of the management and financial operations of the Department and USAGM, including their financial statements, information security, internal operations, and external activities funded by the Department through contracts or federal financial assistance. The Deputy Assistant Inspector General for MERO is responsible for the MERO Directorate and for performing engagements within the Middle East Region, covering the Department’s Bureaus of Near Eastern Affairs and South and Central Asian Affairs. The Deputy Assistant Inspector General for MERO is also responsible for general operation of overseas offices located in Kabul, Afghanistan; Baghdad, Iraq; and Frankfurt, Germany. The divisions within the Office of Audits are discussed below.
Contracts, Grants, and Infrastructure Division (CGI)
The Contracts, Grants, and Infrastructure (CGI) Division conducts mandated, requested, and self-generated audits of the Department and USAGM contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and similar assistance instruments. These audits and reviews can be used by the Department and USAGM to ensure efficient and effective administration and oversight of contracted activities and other federal assistance programs, and ensure that recipients are spending federal funds as intended, performing program activities as stipulated, and achieving desired results. In addition, CGI conducts audits related to the Department and USAGM efforts to effectively and efficiently utilize resources to meet operational and infrastructure needs in support of their respective missions.
Financial Management Division (FM)
The Financial Management (FM) Division conducts audits of the Department and USAGM efforts to achieve effective financial management of their programs and adequate accountability over their resources. FM’s responsibilities include conducting audits of financial issues, activities, and operations, including overseeing the annual financial statement audits and performing mandated audits of improper payments.
Information Technology Division (IT)
The Information Technology Division conducts audits of the Department and USAGM IT management and IT security programs and initiatives. The division examines efforts to protect the Department’s and USAGM’s global IT infrastructures and reviews the effectiveness of IT security management programs at bureaus and overseas posts. The division also reviews issues related to the cost-effective acquisition, development, implementation, and management of major IT systems; telecommunications networks; and other technologies across the Department and USAGM. The division provides information that auditees could use to identify and mitigate IT risk exposure; enhance the efficiency of critical in-house governance and regulatory compliance functions; and promote the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information systems by requiring appropriate corrective actions to address deficient internal controls.
Security and Intelligence Division (SI)
The Security and Intelligence (SI) Division conducts audits of Department programs, policies, procedures, and organizational elements designed to protect people, facilities, and information. SI examines the management and administration of security and intelligence programs at headquarters, overseas posts, and USAGM facilities. SI provides information that security professionals could use to become more efficient and effective in their work at a time when staffing shortages, increased security requirements, and the demands of high-threat posts have increased the workload of Department security personnel.
Middle East Region Operations Directorate (MERO)
The Middle East Region Operations (MERO) Directorate plans, coordinates, and oversees high-cost, high-risk Department programs in crisis and post-conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in South and Central Asia. MERO conducts audits and evaluations of Department programs, contracts, grants, contractor performance, and procurement-related activities. Specifically, MERO audits and evaluates embassy operations and personnel security, as well as the effectiveness of the Department’s foreign assistance programs related to refugees, anti-corruption, police training, and rule of law, among others. MERO has three overseas offices in Frankfurt, Germany; Baghdad, Iraq; and Kabul, Afghanistan to help it achieve its mission.
Audit Compliance and Follow-up (ACF) Division
The Audit Operations, Quality, and Compliance (AOQC) Division is responsible for conducting quality control reviews of audits, performing workforce planning and analysis for the Office of Audits, performing Contracting Officer’s Representative duties, developing and managing budget information in coordination with the OIG’s budget office, recruiting and hiring qualified auditors and analysts, and managing the continuing professional education requirements for auditors and analysts. AOQC also provides editing services for all published and official documents, and a full range of administrative support to both of the Office of Audits directorates. AOQC serves as a liaison with other OIG offices and outside entities. In addition, AOQC performs audit follow up on AUD recommendations. Audit follow up is an integral part of good management and is a shared responsibility between agency management officials and the OIG. Corrective action taken by management to resolve findings and recommendations is essential to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of agency operations. AOQC tracks the status of recommendations to the Department and USAGM, verifies that corrective actions have been taken to implement recommendations in reports, assists in obtaining agreement (resolution) for audit recommendations not previously accepted by management, and coordinates follow-up reviews and evaluations as needed. AOQC is also responsible for periodic reporting of corrective actions. These reports are included in the OIG’s Semiannual Report, testimonies to Congress, and other communications. AOQC provides statistical sampling and technical methodology support for audit teams. AOQC also reviews Office of Audits draft reports for statistical and methodological soundness, clarity, and recommendation consistency.
Audit Operations Division (AO)
The Audit Operations (AO) Division’s responsibilities include conducting quality control reviews of audits, performing workforce planning and analysis for the Office of Audits, performing Contracting Officer’s Representative duties, developing and managing budget information in coordination with OIG’s budget office, recruiting and hiring qualified auditors and analysts, and managing the continuing professional education requirements for auditors and analysts. AO also provides editing services for all published and official documents, and a full range of administrative support to both Office of Audits directorates. AO serves as a liaison with other OIG offices and outside entities.