Internal Audit Control In Government Establishment
1.1 Background Of The Study
Auditing standards and guidelines (AS&G) 3.204 defined internal control as “the whole system of control both financially and otherwise established by management in order to carry on the business of the enterprise in an orderly and efficient manner to ensure adherence to management policies, safeguard the asset and secure, as far as possible, the completeness and accuracy of the records. The individual components of an internal control system are known as “controls” or “internal control”. The earliest known form of accounting is stewardship accounting and has its origin far back in 4500BC. In this system, persons called stewards were appointed to manage other peoples’ affairs. The total charge against the stewards are made up of the balance of items under their custody at the beginning of the period plus items received from their masters and third parties on behalf of their masters less items returned to the master and those given out to third parties on his behalf.
Later, this form of accounting gave way to the modern form of accounting which is sub-divided into: Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, Taxation Accounting, Management Accounting and Public sector Accounting. Financial accounting is a system of accounting that attempts to report the operating result during a period as well as the position of assets and liabilities at a particular date. Cost accounting, on the other hand, avoids the possible losses arising from the mishandling of financial data. It also attempts to assist management by reporting operating results at regular internals and at different levels of activities. it, as well, measures the actual performances against the planned performance.
Taxation Accounting is another branch of accounting that is required to assist in management decision making. Tax has a lot of implications for management decision on one hand and it is a vital source of revenue to the government on the other hand. Management Accounting get its impetus from the industrial revolution and it saw accounting change from the recording and analyzing roles to emphasizing on detailed information for decision making. The chartered institute of management and Accounting (CIMA) also defines management accounting as “an integral part of management concerned with identifying, presenting and interpreting information used for: Formulating strategy; Planning and controlling activities; Decision taking; Optimizing the use of resources; Disclosure to shareholders and others external to the entity; Disclosure to employees; and Safeguarding assets.
Public sector Accounting is, however, introduced to take care of government /public accounting which differ from private accounting. However, the most recent accounting method is the social welfare and responsibility accounting and it owes its’ birth to the social revolution which has been underway in the western world in the past two years. It created social awareness that people start to become interested in not just the amount of profit express form of balance sheet and profit and loss account is too narrow to really portray the aims and objectives of the business. Today, most owners of businesses are separated from management and though, the public finance public owned industries and establishments, they are managed by the government and appointed persons. However, the whole essence of internal control, therefore, is to evolve a system whereby, though ownership is separated from management, the owners will be left with no doubt that their assets and resources are efficiently and effectively managed.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
The government envisaged that there are bound to be problems in the presentation of accounting information and as a result, made leading statements and regulations which an accounting system could be measured. Accounting and Auditing professional bodies also laid down their own standards and guidelines that will guide their members and, in fact, all practicing accountants and auditors in the performance and discharge of their professional duties. This study entitled “internal control system in government establishment” is, therefore aimed at ascertaining the effectiveness or otherwise of internal controls in government owned establishments seen the problems from the view point of their home countries.
In recent times, several cases of arson, fraud, misappropriation of public funds, theft of properties and other types of misfeasance have been reported all over this county, Nigeria. Several prominent public owned institutions like the famous Cocoa House in Ibadan, Oyo State, the multi million naira Nigeria External Telecommunication (NET) building iin Lagos, and the Anambra Broadcasting service were all known to have been gutted down by fire. In the words of Yinka Lijadu of fire hazards “High rising buildings have contributed to loss of enormous resources in the country in the past few years”. One common characteristic of these incessant fire outbreaks is that accusing fingers are always pointed at frauds that have either been perpetrated or about to be perpetrated.
In 1984, when the military took over power from the civilians, hundreds of Nigerians on whose hands the wealth of this nation had been entrusted into were locked up in maximum security prisons scattered all over the county for misappropriation of public funds and siphoning of public funs into foreign accounts. It is also uncommon to observe that once a job or service is being funded by the government, the price goes up to about 300% of the actual cost. In fact, the 10% syndrome is still very fresh in our memories and Abuja contractors can tell better of this. All the above mentioned anomalies are what propelled the researcher to choose this topic and he intends not only to look at the cause and effect but to endeavour to proper appropriate recommendations that will help to prune the occurrence of these ills to the barest minimum.
1.3 Purpose Of The Study
The purpose of this study, like was mentioned under the statement of problems is to find out the efforts made by government institutions toward ensuring compliance to the set down policies, guidelines and procedures as was laid down by the Auditing standards and guidelines and the financial regulations. The researcher also intends to review the functions of the internal audit department with a view to finding out the extent to which it has been able to perform it’s duties as the watchdog of the internal control system.
We shall also endeavour to ascertain the objectives of internal control, the basis far its development, factors militating against its smooth running as well as answer questions on whether the control measures are adequate, viable and reliable as to ensure the safety of assets and completeness and accuracy of the records. If safety is assured, will those assets be safe guarded in the future? The study will also give appropriate recommendations on how the systems could be improved where weaknesses are observed.
1.4 Significance Of The Study
It has been stated earlier that the benefits of an effective internal control system cannot be over-emphasized. Fraud and misappropriations of funds are the bane of our society and the earlier this ugly situation is arrested, the better for posterity. Where the system is adequate in design, effective and efficient in operation, the cooperate objective is almost achieved and the fulfillment of the needs of the individual employees will also be assured.
This study, with the attendant recommendations, will help the organization to know areas of weakness and thereby finding appropriate remedy to overcome such weakness. This is a very effective and reliable mode of communication since the researcher has little or no rested interest in the organization. The government is another beneficiary from such information because it is the committal of the fraud of government resources that the internal control system is intended to obliterate. The public, on the other hand, has no less interest on their own side since they are the taxpayers. Other who will benefit from this study are further researchers and fellow students who will be opportune to pick up this pieces of work from the library. This study, also, has been a source of inspection and the researcher found it very invaluable for his academic advancement. It has exposed him to so many things which ordinarily he would have missed.
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