The Legislative Audit Council conducts performance audits not financial audits, such as those conducted by the South Carolina Office of the State Auditor. Performance audits focus on issues involving the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies and programs. We look for evidence that state agencies are complying with laws and regulations; are conducting their operations with a minimum of waste and duplication; and are achieving desired program results and benefits. We often look for more cost-effective ways to perform state operations and identify best practices. Occasionally we audit an agency when members of the General Assembly suspect program mismanagement or abuse has occurred. Some audits are mandated by law.
While each of our audits is different, they all have the following characteristics in common.
- Each audit is objective and non-partisan, and is based on an independent assessment of evidence.
- Each audit is guided by a set of “objectives” designed to respond to the audit requesters' questions and/or legislative requirements.
- Each audit follows a specific process that is based on the generally accepted government auditing standards published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The audit process involves several stages and varies in time spent conducting fieldwork, depending on the size of the agency and degree of complexity. The process begins once an audit request is approved.
An audit team develops the audit plan which specifies the research approach, the resource requirements, and projected deadlines. The planning process determines the most cost-effective approach which will satisfy the objectives of the study. When the research is completed, a draft report is written and reviewed internally to verify the work meets generally accepted government auditing standards. Our board reviews the draft report. The audited agency(s) receives a confidential draft for review and comment. A final report containing the comments of the audited agency(s) is then released to the South Carolina General Assembly and the public.
After an audit report is published and if we have available resources, we issue a follow-up review. In this review, we report to the Legislature the status of recommendations made by a previous audit. We may also conduct follow-up analysis of previous recommendations during a new project, if applicable, and provide the results as a part of that audit report.