As organizations confront the immediate and longer-term implications of COVID-19, The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) issued a call to action for audit committees to ensure objective oversight of organizational activities, including risk management, performance, controls, and key processes.
The IIA and IFAC have developed specific recommendations for organizations to more vigorously confront uncertainties and turmoil that may threaten their integrity, transparency, and accountability.
“We must be aggressive and future-oriented in prioritizing and managing new threats and vulnerabilities, while not being distracted from existing risks,” said IIA President and CEO Richard F. Chambers. “Governing bodies and their audit committees, in particular, must be highly vigilant, nimble, and well engaged to ensure they as well as management and others are receiving objective assurance and insight on critical aspects of organizational activity.”
Adds IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey, “The impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy will be felt for years, if not decades. This creates long-term risks and uncertainties that organizations need to confront head-on through strong governance and internal controls. We hope these recommendations will support governing bodies and audit committees as they navigate the continuously evolving operating environment of today and tomorrow.”
The IIA and IFAC call on governing bodies and their audit committees to:
- Stay informed: Maintain a timely and clear understanding of the continuously-evolving operating environment and how it may impact organizational objectives and performance.
- Communicate and collaborate: Adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to exercising oversight of internal and external audit and reporting through dynamic communication and collaboration.
- Leverage available expertise: Seek qualified and reliable assurance and advice on management evaluations of, and responses to, the organization’s continuously evolving risks and risk profile.
- Promote continuous improvement: Encourage innovation and change to address vulnerabilities and to build resilience, strengthening the pursuit of value creation.
- Think holistically: Adopt a broad perspective of the organization and its environment across both financial and nonfinancial goals, considering interconnectivity with other organizations, internal and external interdependencies, and the central importance of people.
- Embrace technology: Optimize the performance of the audit committee through the use of technology and flexible working practices.
In his blog Richard Chambers says: 'While these six recommendations are focused on the audit committee, they can and should be applied across all levels of the organization. They encourage collaboration and discourage silo mentalities.'
The full statement is available on The IIA’s website.