Auditing in the context of COVID-19

25 March 2020: We’re aware that the current circumstances leave public entities unsure how they might meet their accountability obligations. The Auditor-General’s audit service providers are responding to the evolving COVID-19 situation with the best interests of our communities in mind.

People’s welfare is our primary concern.

There are a range of statutory deadlines that dictate the timing of audit work and reporting obligations, in normal circumstances. These are not normal circumstances. It’s already clear that it’s going to be difficult to carry out audits in the current circumstances, and many audits will be completed late. We don’t want to compromise the quality of public entities’ financial reports or our audits of the information they contain.

We are talking to relevant agencies, including the Treasury, about what these new circumstances mean for everyone and how they affect the usual accountability obligations of public entities.

Auditors are working out what the level 4 alert means for their ability to audit and how best to work remotely with public entities and their finance teams.

We encourage staff in public entities to continue to talk with their appointed auditor about what audit work, if any, can proceed without putting staff at risk or under undue pressure, or distracting them from the clear priority to address Covid-related issues. Again, the primary concern in these circumstances is people’s welfare.