Tony Ras is an Ernst & Young Partner and a key player in the audit of the Defense Logistics Agency financial statements. He is a certified public accountant and affiliated with American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Society of Military Comptrollers and the National Property Management Association.
Tell our readers about what you do:
I am one of the engagement partners on the audit of the DLA financial statements for the General Fund, Working Capital Fund and Stockpile Transaction Fund, as well as the other attestation reports we complete for DLA.
My primary responsibility is to lead the DLA engagement, which includes managing and coordinating administrative matters such as engagement staffing, contracting, and budgeting. I oversee the entire audit life cycle from our overall planning, internal control and testing to the reporting phases of the DLA audit in conformity with the audit requirements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Government Accountability Office Financial Audit Manual, Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and the Office of Management and Budget.
How long have you worked for EY?
I have been at EY for over 16 years. I started in January 2003 immediately after graduating with a Master’s degree in accounting from the University of South Florida.
What led you to becoming an auditor?
I come from a family of CPAs who started working at a public accounting firm like EY. I followed in their footsteps and started my career at EY. As I progressed in my career, I continued to realize auditors can really provide value to our clients, both in the government and private sectors. As we learn more about the client’s business and their processes, we are able to help them grow and achieve their goals. This includes helping them through difficult transactions, getting more funding and finding the right resources through our own internal and external networks. Lastly, we help our clients build their stakeholder’s trust and confidence (such as the public, Congress, etc.).
How many audits have you done in your career?
Over my 16-year career at EY, I have done many audits ranging from small private companies to large public companies and from small state and local government agencies to large U.S. federal government agencies such as DLA.
How big is the DLA audit team?
The DLA audit team is comprised of a number of team members ranging from our core audit team (both financial and information technology auditors) and our internal specialists that include environmentalists, statisticians, and data and analytics. The EY audit team is comprised of approximately 150 team members. In addition, the DoD Office of Inspector General is part of the DLA audit team. They have more than 10 people working directly on the DLA audit.
Is there anything unique to DLA’s audit from other audits you have conducted?
The audit of DLA is unique given that DLA is a large and complex organization. It has operations in over 600 locations all over the world. The nature of DLA’s business adds complexity to the audit given that certain aspects of DLA’s processes are decentralized and certain aspects are centralized. This requires our team traveling to many locations to understand and validate DLA’s business processes and controls.
DLA is also unique in that it is part of an even larger organization. The DoD, which has components including the military services and other defense organizations, is a reporting entity that consolidates all of these organizations. The audit requires a significant amount of effort and coordination with the DoD OIG who oversees all of the component audits, and other stakeholders, such as the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense and service components. In addition, DoD integrates certain processes of the components and the Other Disbursing Offices to help centralize operations, such as accounting and reporting functions. This integration increases the complexity of DLA in that we have to perform procedures (such as walkthroughs; test of controls; and test of transactions) that involve entities not controlled by DLA.
Why do you think audits are important?
Government agencies should complete financial statement audits to help improve accountability; increase efficiency and effectiveness in their business and operational processes; and help build the trust and confidence of its stakeholders, which include, the American citizens and Congress.
In preparation for the audit, government agencies will have to get a complete and accurate understanding of their current business and operational processes. Through this lens of understanding, government agencies gain a better insight to the areas that are working well and the areas to improve efficiency and effectiveness. In turn, this will help the government agency be more accountable and financially responsible.
What advice do you have for the DLA workforce regarding audits?
The audit is designed to help and add value to organizations (both private and government entities). The audit team is here to help DLA meet its mission and objectives, while improving its business processes along the audit process. A few key items I’d like to highlight about the audit:
The audit team’s goal is not to identify findings or issues at DLA, but rather to help identify areas of improvement. If DLA knows and believes that there is an issue in certain areas, our team would like to know in advance. If we know that there are issues that DLA is aware of and is working to remediate, our team will not perform any procedures in that area until DLA states that the issue has been remediated.
The Notices of Findings and Recommendations are also meant to help DLA understand specific issues and guide DLA how to remediate. However, the recommendations are simply recommendations. With DLA having a better understanding of its business and processes, DLA is better positioned to identify how an issue should be remediated. An important aspect is to understand the underlying risks and design solutions to mitigate those risk.