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Frequently Asked Questions
What is an audit?
An audit is a thorough examination of the financial accounts and transactions of an entity that is conducted by an independent public body. The Audit Act (Sections 12-6-3(A) NMSA 1978) states that, “the financial affairs of every agency shall be thoroughly examined and audited each year by the state auditor, personnel of the state auditor’s office designated by the state auditor or independent auditors approved by the state auditor.” The statute also requires that “the audits shall be conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and rules issued by the state auditor.” The rules issued by the state auditor applicable to financial audits are contained in 2.2.2. NMAC, Audits of Governmental Entities Requirements for Contracting and Conducting Audits of Agencies (The Audit Rule).
What are audit opinions and what does each type of opinion mean?
An audit opinion in a financial audit is the independent public accountant’s statement, based on audit work performed in accordance with applicable standards, of whether an entity’s reported financial information is presented fairly, in accordance with recognized criteria. The following are types of opinions issued by an auditor upon review of a report:
Unmodified Opinion- Expressed when the auditor concludes that the financial statements of a given entity are presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
Modified Opinion- Expressed when the auditor concludes that, based on audit evidence, the financial statements, as a whole, are materially misstated, or the auditor is unable to obtain enough appropriate evidence to conclude that the financial statements, as a whole, are free from material misstatement. Therefore, the auditor modifies the opinion in his or her report. There are three types of modified opinions:
Qualified Opinion- Expressed under the following circumstances:
- When the auditor, having obtained enough good audit evidence, concludes that misstatements, either by themselves or when grouped with all other misstatements, are material to the financial statements, and are confined to specific elements, accounts, ot items of the financial statements.
- When the auditor is unable to obtain enough good audit evidence upon which to base an opinion, and concludes that the possible effects on the financial statements of undetected misstatements, if any, could be material but are confined to specific elements, accounts, or items in the financial statements.
Report language that indicates the auditor has issued a qualified opinion states, “In our opinion, except for the effects of… the matter described in the basis for Qualified Opinion paragraph, the financial statements referred to above present fairly.”
Adverse Opinion- Expressed when, after having obtained enough good audit evidence, the auditor concludes that misstatements, individually or when grouped with other misstatements, are both material and affect multiple elements, accounts, or items of the financial statements.
Report language that indicates that the auditor has issued an adverse opinion states, “In our opinion, because of the significance of the matter discussed in the Basis for Adverse Opinion paragraph, the financial statements referred to above do not present fairly the financial position of the entity.”
Disclaimer Opinion- The auditor disclaims an opinion when he or she is unable to obtain enough good audit evidence to base an opinion on, and concludes that the possible effects of undetected misstatements on the financial statements could be both material and pervasive.
What are the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS)?
The Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), also commonly referred to as the Yellow Book, is a collection of government auditing standards published by the Comptroller General of the United State (housed within the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAGAS was most recently revised in 2011. A copy of the revision is available athttp://www.gao.gov/assets/590/587281.pdf. Pursuant to paragraph 2.08, GAGAS incorporates, by reference, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AISCPA) Statements of Auditing Standards.
GAGAS provides a framework for conducting high quality audits with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence. These standards are used by auditors of government entities, entities that receive government awards, and auditor organizations performing GAGAS audits.
GAGAS provides a framework for conducting high quality audits with competence, integrity, objectivity, and independence. These standards are used by auditors.
How do I report suspected acts of financial fraud, waste, and abuse of public resources?
You may report suspected acts of financial fraud, waste or abuse through the OSA’s hotline website link or the OSA’s seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day, toll-free hotline (1-866-OSA-FRAUD). The hotline is operated by The Network (http://tnminc.com/), an independent service provider with an extensive customer base and over 25 years of experience. The Network is nationally recognized as a leader in the area of hotline support and integrated case management.
Each hotline report is evaluated by the OSA’s Special Investigations Division, and an appropriate course of action is determined. The OSA may share information and coordinate efforts with other government agencies as appropriate on a case-by-case basis. If your issue does not directly fall within the jurisdiction of the OSA, it may be referred to the appropriate agency.
If a caller or complainant chooses to remain anonymous when reporting, he or she may communicate with the OSA via the Fraud Hotline callback feature. The caller simply calls the hotline, or logs in using the unique passcode given to them at the time that they officially file their complaint. He or she will have the opportunity to write an inquiry/complaint, or dictate it to a network operator. The message will automatically be sent to a case manager at the OSA for a response. The assigned investigator or appropriate OSA staff member can either enter a response for the caller to read online, or it may be read to the caller by a network operator if the caller so chooses. This is the only way that a complainant may remain anonymous.
The OSA has a list of standard, approved questions that each caller is asked when he or she calls in or makes a complaint online.