News story: Streamlining public sector audits: apply for contracts


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The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) working with Audit Scotland and the Wales Audit Office will invest in organisations with ideas to develop a new, more efficient approach to public sector audits.

The competition has up to £1.25 million available to support data-enabled approaches to auditing that make it easier to capture, extract, cleanse and format information.

It aims to improve the NIAO’s ability to interpret, analyse and present data from a range of sources. This could include using tools such as visualisation and automation for historic and current data comparison to identify trends and anomalies.

This is a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition with funding provided by the GovTech Catalyst.

Find out more about SBRI and how it works.

Understanding the different types of audit

The NIAO is responsible for auditing public sector bodies in Northern Ireland. It carries out 2 types of audit:

  • financial audits to ensure financial statements are correctly prepared and identify risks, anomalies and weaknesses in audited bodies. They provide advice on governance, risk management control and reporting

  • value for money audits, which look at how efficiently an audited body is using its resources. They analyse management information and publicly available data, identify good practice and encourage improved performance

Projects should:

  • extract, cleanse and validate information from different financial management systems
  • develop a transparent, General Data Protection Regulations-compliant way to identify high-risk transactions
  • satisfy professional auditing standards
  • be easy to use for people with different levels of data analytics experience
  • have the potential to be applied to other UK public sector audit agencies in future

They should also outline a clear plan for technical and commercial feasibility and the development of a working prototype.

A 2-phase competition

The competition will run in 2 phases.

In phase 1, £250,000 including VAT is available to fund up to 5 feasibility studies that focus on Northern Ireland data.

Phase 2 will award up to £500,000 each including VAT to 2 successful projects developed in phase 1. Funding will be for further development and prototyping and incorporating data from other sources.

Competition information

  • the competition opens on 19 November 2018 and the deadline for registration is midday on 9 January 2019
  • the competition is open to organisations of all sizes
  • there will be a briefing event in Belfast on 22 November 2018
  • projects that meet a quality threshold with their application will be invited to an interview panel on 22 February to present their ideas
  • successful applicants will be contacted on 8 March 2019
  • projects are expected to start by 29 April 2019 and last up to 12 weeks

Find out more about this competition and apply.

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