5 Best Reporting Best Practices for Auditors and Investigators in State and Local Government

May 12, 2023 / #Unstuck Government, #Audit & Investigations

There is no shortage of reporting solutions on the market today. But auditors and investigators in state and local government still spend far too much time compiling reports. They also put too much effort into making sure those reports are accurate and easy to understand. 

By moving to a software-driven audit reporting process, agencies across the government will be able to allocate resources more effectively.  

“We made the decision to implement an audit and investigation process management solution and saw a 40% reduction in time spent in audit reporting,” reports one State Government Agency.  

Additionally, agencies are finding that they have real-time visibility into audit findings and status updates after software implementation, enabling them to take timely action and drive improvements. The overall audit quality has improved, non-compliance risk has decreased, and the efficiencies are substantial.  

Why can’t more government agencies drive efficiency and accuracy with their reporting? 

Barriers to producing effective, accurate compliance reports

During a recent webinar OPEXUS State & Local Sales Director Ryan Trudeau explored the top five trends that are costing auditors and investigators precious time and money when it comes to reporting: 

  1. Complex regulation: Government regulations are constantly expanding and evolving—and they require state and local agencies to stay up to date and interpret them correctly to ensure accurate reporting. 
  2. Lack of standardization: No single reporting standard exists in government, which leads to inconsistencies in reporting across different auditors and investigators within the same state or local agency. 
  3. Data management: State and local government agencies collect incredible amounts of data. Auditors and investigators must ensure that the data they’re reporting on is reliable and accurate, which is a time-consuming, work-intensive task when so much data exists. 
  4. Political pressure: Auditors and investigators must maintain their independence and objectivity. In a digital era of 24/7 news and misinformation, that’s easier said than done. But it’s the only way to share findings and conclusions that are unbiased and accurate. 
  5. Limited resources: As always, state and local governments are expected to do more with less. This means compiling accurate and thorough reports in a timely manner despite a shortage of auditors and investigators, limited funds, and outdated processes. 
5 best practices for overcoming government reporting trends

Fortunately, there are best practices auditors and investigators can adopt to overcome the trends outlined above.  

1. Ensure rapid report generation and caseload completion 

It’s crucial to an agency’s reputation to quickly deliver reports that share actionable insights. After all, we’re all accustomed to accessing information over the internet anytime, anywhere. No one wants to wait months to receive a report. Rapid reporting also: 

  • Keeps the public informed of malfeasance and wrongdoing 
  • Enables state and local agencies to quickly take corrective action 
  • Prevents or minimizes financial loss from fraud, waste, and abuse of public funds 
  • Helps agencies comply with deadlines and avoid legal penalties 

2. Use figures, visuals, and text stylization 

It’s important to draw the reader’s attention to critical data. Figures, visualizations, and text stylizations within a report can help do just that, helping auditors and investigators to: 

  • Highlight key findings and reduce complexity 
  • Enhance clarity 
  • Improve engagement 
  • Meet professional standards 

3. Reference everything in your metadata 

Though typically a time-consuming task, referencing a report is critical to attain and keep the trust of constituents and other stakeholders. It can be tempting to take shortcuts—but doing so can erode trust over time. Referencing is important because it: 

  • Makes findings and conclusions traceable 
  • Demonstratives credibility 
  • Ensures findings are accurate, reliable, and valid through reproducibility 
  • Is often required by many auditing standards 
  • Highlights process improvements and areas that require more research 

4. Provide easy access to leadership and constituents 

Leadership and constituents expect world-class digital user experiences. They expect no less when it comes to interacting with audit and investigative reports. Making reports easily accessible: 

  • Establishes transparency and trust 
  • Improves efficiency by making information readily available and actionable 
  • Enables continuous improvement in government operations 
  • Helps to ensure compliance 

5. Automate 

There’s no rule that says reporting must be a time-consuming task. When auditors and investigators can automate otherwise manual reporting tasks, they increase: 

  • Efficiency 
  • Accuracy 
  • Consistency 
  • Innovation 
How to adopt these best practices and overcome the biggest barriers to faster, more reliable reporting

As good as these best practices sound, you may be wondering how you actually go about implementing them. Watch the on-demand webinar: 5 Reporting Best practices  to learn more about the top trends impacting state and local reporting and how to create timely, accurate, trustworthy, accessible, and easy-to-understand audit and investigative reports using the eCase platform. 

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