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Auditors general's universe revisited: An exploratory study of the influence they exert on public administration through their value for money audits

Danielle Morin (HEC Montreal, Chemin de la Côte Ste‐Catherine, Montreal, Canada)

Managerial Auditing Journal

ISSN: 0268-6902

Article publication date: 25 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

As practised by Auditors General in governmental organizations, the value for money (VFM) audit is ultimately destined to improve the management of public affairs. This study aims to examine to what extent Auditor General of Quebec has been achieving this objective through the VFM audits conducted in the Canadian province of Quebec from 1995 to 2002. For the purposes of this research, a model was designed that measured the impact these VFM audits may have had on the management of the organizations audited and that exposed the determinants of this impact.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was sent out exclusively to auditees who are the representatives of the organizations audited: top and middle managers and department professionals (specialists in their area: health, education, etc.) having interacted with the auditors during VFM audits. A five‐category Likert‐type scale was selected for the survey. A total of 188 questionnaires were sent out and, of the questionnaires filled out by auditees, a total of 99 were considered valid, that is 53 percent response rate. Quantitative analysis was performed using SPSS software. For each of the elements measuring the impact of VFM audits on the management of organizations audited, principal components factor analysis (with VARIMAX rotation when there was more than one factor) was performed. These analyses sought to understand the correlation structure of the variables for each of the elements.

Findings

The changes made after the auditors' visits have not been radical and there have been no revolutions in the organizations audited, but the influence of auditors is perceptible for all ten of the elements measured. The will of those at the base of the organization and the intervention of parliamentarians turn out to have a decisive influence on the impact that auditors will or will not have on the management of organizations audited.

Research limitations/implications

The point of view reported is exclusively that of auditees. There can be no claim for total objectivity on their part. Moreover, it was practically impossible to corroborate their statements with other sources. Some respondents might have tended to minimize the influence that auditors might have had on them. Others could have shaped facts to their advantage.

Originality/value

Measurement of the impact of VFM audits on the management of government organizations, from auditees' point of view, has not been much examined by scholars. This research constitutes a major contribution to advance knowledge about the impact of VFM audits in a Canadian context.

Keywords

Citation

Morin, D. (2008), "Auditors general's universe revisited: An exploratory study of the influence they exert on public administration through their value for money audits", Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 23 No. 7, pp. 697-720. https://doi.org/10.1108/02686900810890652

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited