Audit Task Force, SharePoint site guide the agency toward audit readiness

By Beth Reece

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A new collaborative platform in SharePoint gives Defense Logistics Agency employees a single place to find audit-related information and tools as they drive the agency toward achieving clean financial statements ready for review by independent auditor Ernst & Young.

The Common Access Card-enabled site is managed by the Audit Task Force, created last fall as a separate staff element headed by Navy Rear Adm. Deborah Haven, director of the DLA Joint Reserve Force. An ATF Dashboard and links to the ATF operations order, organizational chart, factsheets and other resources are available at the SharePoint site.

“The site is a one-stop shop for valuable information regardless of your role supporting the agency, from how best to interact with an auditor during a walkthrough to the overall status of NFRs [Notice of Findings and Recommendations] and CAPs [corrective action plans],” Haven said.

The ATF provides a systemic structure for tracking over 300 NFRs resulting from previous reviews, as well as corresponding CAPs. The task force is staffed with cross-functional experts from the major subordinate commands and DLA Headquarters working on audit readiness full-time.

NFRs that span multiple MSCs and disciplines are being coordinated by a specialized 10-person team within the task force. Some NFRs also involve non-DLA organizations such as the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the military services.

“It’s a collaborative process, and the power of this cross-functional team is that it brings numerous parts of the agency together to try and resolve discrepancies in the best way possible,” Haven said, adding that the team is also looking for common threads in those NFRs so successful strategies can be replicated.

Though DLA has made improvements that ensure standard operating procedures and business processes are compliant with general accounting principles, much work remains, Haven said. To address a lack of sufficient internal controls noted in the fiscal 2019 audit review, DLA is implementing an enterprisewide A-123 Program to assess risks and establish internal controls.

“A key component of the program is the development of internal training to establish skills required for the proper identification and mitigation of risks. Once implemented, internal controls will help us drive positive audit results, enhance our decision making process and mitigate risk,” she continued.

The agency’s audit-readiness efforts began six years ago, when senior leaders first challenged employees to adopt new procedures and controls to ensure the accuracy of DLA’s financial statements.

The 2010 National Defense Act mandated that the Department of Defense have all of its financial statements audit-ready by the end of fiscal 2017. DLA was the first government agency of its size and complexity to assert full financial-statement auditability in September 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

In 2017, Ernest & Young issued a disclaimer of opinion on the agency’s financial records indicating it was unable to form an opinion on those records. The focus on audit readiness has challenged employees across the agency to view standard operating procedures and business processes through a new lens, Haven said, adding that open-mindedness also remains critical to achieving audit readiness.

The admiral encouraged all employees to be knowledgeable about the processes they support and be able to identify internal controls associated with those processes.

“Additionally, the ATF is working to help employees to be prepared to provide evidential matter for every transaction,” she said.

Employees can read more about the ATF in this CAC-enabled blog or the CAC-enabled SharePoint site.