Thursday, June 26, 2008

Audit failure assignment and tips for the research

Prof. John Barron's ACC 5400, an auditing class, a late evening class, has a group assignment to work on one of the audit failure cases that are featured in a book of cases. (The book has previously been used by previous classes.) I have sent Prof. Barron a copy of my handout regarding tips for doing the research for this assignment and he will post it to Blackboard.

I have also placed a copy of it on the shared Numan drive, under IS, Instructional materials, Class Assignments and then Research tips for Audit Failure Assignment, dated 06272008. The presentations are due in late July. I will be gone next week, on research leave from July 14, and gone again July 19.

They can select the audit failure that they want to work on. While Enron might be very popular, there is also probably an overwhelming amount of information on the case. One of the more difficult cases for locating information involves a pharmaceutical supply company on Long Island in the 1980s that did not generate many news stories when the audit failure (involving "cooking the books") was discovered, or afterwards. The company no longer exists.

When I did a workshop on helping students locate information, I first showed them how to locate the sources cited in the case study, which they really seemed to appreciate.

I also showed how to find articles in the databases such as how to avoid inventory fraud or embezzlement, which provide information for suggestions on how the situation might have been avoided, or for suggestions for improvements in internal controls and procedures.

Another professor, who teaches this during the spring and summer terms, has told me that he wants the students to develop a more skeptical approach, and realize that as auditor once you step into a firm, you are in their environment which they control. He has said you can't teach this from a book. But, reading the cases, with hindsight, you can see some instances of possible "red flags" --when excuses or exceptions were made, when procedures weren't followed, when people were related or involved with each other, or when there appears to be no where to turn for advice or to report something suspicious. So, psychology databases have some articles about
risk management, auditing and auditors.

I hope this is helpful. I am meeting with one of the student groups tonight so I will post if they have any suggestions as to what they find helpful. If a student comes to the desk who has not read the case, I have started to suggest that the student do so prior to seeking assistance.

Additional information:

I met with the student group doing the Enron case tonight. The assignment is different from past semesters as the assignment includes answering the questions at the end of each case study for their presentations. So, finding historical financial filings may be less important than in the past.

Many of the questions also ask the students to provide their own opinions on requirements and auditing standards.

Auditing standards online are available on CCH Accounting Research Manager, and as they are the current standards, print standards from prior years should be found using CUNY+.

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