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									                                            Old Dominion University                 Policy C-5
                                         Office of the University Auditor           Established Date: 1/01/01
                                                 Audit Manual                       Revision Date:

                                            SURVEY TECHNIQUES


The techniques discussed in this procedure should not be considered all-inclusive. Auditors should use only
those techniques necessary for the specific program or activity to be surveyed. Auditors should constantly
strive to develop new and more effective techniques. In selecting the best method for surveying a particular
activity, the auditor should use the techniques which will produce the desired result considering the cost
involved.

Interviewing

The survey includes the use of interviews in each major functional area. Interviews must be planned in
advance, keeping in mind that the purpose of the survey is to disclose problem areas.

Comparative Analysis

This involves comparing data, sometimes from various sources, to identify unusual situations or deviations. It
is a valuable technique available to the auditor. If the data is computerized, it is generally possible to program
the computer to make comparative analyses.

Flow Charting

This means using a diagrammatic network to chart steps that must be completed before a project or activity
can be concluded successfully. This technique can be particularly useful to the auditor in identifying possible
bottlenecks in operations.

Analytical Review

This involves comparing results such as income, expenses, etc., for the same entity from period to period. It
also can be used when evaluating changes in results that are dependent or affected by other factors. For
example, if the number of employees increased from the last period, the payroll costs should also go up in
addition to the normal increase due to raises, inflation, etc.

Exploratory Sampling

The exploratory sampling method uses random sampling as a tool available for use in conjunction with many
audit tests normally employed for fiscal, compliance, and management audits. Three criteria must be met to
use this tool:

 •     The number of items in the population to be tested (cases, contracts, practices, etc.) can be determined.

 •     A random number system can be applied to select the items for audit tests.




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                                            Old Dominion University                Policy C-5
                                         Office of the University Auditor          Established Date: 1/01/01
                                                 Audit Manual                      Revision Date:
 •     A minimum acceptable error rate can be established. For example, if the actual error rate found after
       testing is at, or less than, the value established as the standard, the auditor may conclude that further
       testing is not necessary. Generally, if the minimum acceptable error rate is exceeded, the testing will be
       extended upon conclusion of the survey phase. While this method can be applied to small populations
       of items, applying this method to larger populations will produce better cost-effectiveness.

Visual Observations

A tour of the facilities of the entity to be audited may disclose material weaknesses in the operations. Visual
observations also include scanning records and reports for unusual items.




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