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The 'front stage' of substance auditing: A study of how substance auditing is presented in performance audit reports
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School.
Number of Authors: 12019 (English)In: Financial Accountability and Management, ISSN 0267-4424, E-ISSN 1468-0408, Vol. 35, no 2, p. 199-211Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Performance audit is a practice with a potentially high degree of democratic and political relevance. Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have the authority to determine whether the undertakings in central government 'are working'; therefore, SAIs tend to be regarded as important guardians of transparency and 'good' public sector performance. For this purpose, audits of 'substance' are regarded as crucial by both the research community and the INTOSAI. Still, the literature on performance audit concludes that substance audits are rare, although they do exist. One explanation for this is that substance auditing can be a risky endeavour for the auditors, since the lack of generic accounting standards for 'good' public sector performance makes the performance audit reports vulnerable to criticism. The aim of this paper is to contribute to our understanding of substance auditing by detailing the ways in which such audits are presented in performance audit reports. Thus, the paper focuses its analysis on the 'front stage' of substance auditing and finds that the auditors rarely choose to stand on the front stage alone. Instead, they regularly support their authority by relying on other authorities, and when such authorities are lacking, the auditors are reluctant to present judgements in terms of 'good' (or poor) performance. In such cases, this paper suggests that the democratic relevance of the audits can be questioned.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 35, no 2, p. 199-211
Keywords [en]
economy audit, effectiveness audit, efficiency audit, performance audit, substance audit
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168321DOI: 10.1111/faam.12190ISI: 000463146400006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-168321DiVA, id: diva2:1313471
Available from: 2019-05-03 Created: 2019-05-03 Last updated: 2019-05-03Bibliographically approved

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