- Cost Audit should be planned with professional care, recognizing that circumstances may exist to cause the cost statements to be materially misstated. For example, management will be providing cost accounting information in the Schedules and Annexure prescribed in the cost accounting record orders/rules, and also statements regarding capacity and inventories. The cost auditor will be finding evidence to support the information provided; but he is not to assume it is necessarily correct.
- The cost audit should be so programmed and conducted as to provide reasonable assurance that the cost information provided in the Schedules and Annexure, taken as a whole, are free of material misstatement. Reasonable assurance is a concept relating to the accumulation of audit evidence, necessary for the cost auditor to conclude that there are no material misstatements in the cost accounting information and statements, taken as a whole. The concept relates to the whole audit process.
- Acquiring an undertaking of the industry, studying the client’s organizational set-up and the cost accounting control exercised over the various elements of cost are all a part of conducting the cost audit procedures. In planning cost audit, the personnel requirements of an assignment; documentation of the cost audit procedures and of audit evidence and quality control exercised over performing cost audit being important factors, are briefly discussed here.
The planning done in the cost auditor’s office and the documentation, which has to be looked after by the cost audit staff is discussed below.
Cost audit work is to be assigned to personnel who have the degree of technical training and proficiency required in the circumstances. The personnel needs should be planned, keeping in view the staffing and timing requirements of specific cost audit. Qualifications of personnel as to experience, position, background and special expertise should be evaluated. Care should be exercised not to assign any staff who may have any disqualifying relationship. The following aspects of personnel are also to be considered:
Experience and training of cost audit personnel should be considered, particularly keeping the relevant industry in view, as the cost and management accounting procedures and techniques considerably differ on the basis of the nature and type of industry. Earlier cost audit or other practical experience of the industry helps in carrying out cost audit of a unit of that industry.
Assistants to whom work is to be delegated need appropriate direction and supervision. Direction involves informing assistants of their responsibilities and the objective of the procedures they are to perform. It includes informing them about the nature of the industry, possible cost accounting and auditing problems that may affect the cost audit routine and the procedures that they are to perform. The cost audit programme, in providing the time budget and the overall audit plan, should also prove helpful in providing necessary audit directions.
Supervision involves both direction and review of audit work. Personnel carrying out supervisory responsibilities generally perform the following functions during cost audit:
- monitor the progress of the cost audit and also assess that:
the assistants have the necessary skills and competence to carry out their assigned tasks;
i. assistants understand the cost audit directions; and
ii. the cost audit is being carried out according to the overall cost audit plan and the cost audit programme.
- stay aware of the cost accounting and cost auditing questions, raised during the cost audit, assess their significance and modify the cost audit plan and the cost audit programme, as considered necessary; and
- remove any differences of professional judgment between the personnel and decide the level to which making reference is appropriate.
- The cost auditor should document all matters which are important in providing evidence to support the opinion given in the cost audit report. Documentation here means the working papers prepared by and for, or obtained and retained by the cost auditor in connection with the performance of cost audit. Working papers may be in the form of data stored on paper, film, electronic media or other media. Working papers record the audit evidence, resulting from the cost audit work performed, to support the cost auditors opinion. The extent of working papers is a matter of professional judgment. They may cover the detailed aspects of the cost audit or may include the daily work sheets or daily diary maintained by each member of the cost audit staff engaged on the assignment.
- The daily work sheets should include all queries raised; with whom each was discussed and how; and if they were satisfied. The form and content of the working papers will be determined by the nature and complexity of the business, nature and condition of the entity’s cost accounting and internal control systems.
- Use of standardized working papers (such as checklists, confirmation forms, standard letters etc.) may improve the efficiency with which such working papers are prepared and reviewed. Standardized working papers facilitate delegation of work and provide a means to control quality of work. Schedules, statements, analyses and other documents prepared by the entity may be utilized and made a part of the cost audit working papers, only after being satisfied that the materials have been properly prepared with due care.
Confidentiality of Working Papers:
- The cost auditor should adopt appropriate procedures for maintaining the confidentiality and safe custody of the working papers and for retaining them for a period sufficient to meet the needs of the practice and in accordance with legal and professional requirements of record retention.
- Working papers are the property of the cost auditor. Although portions or extracts from the working papers may be made available to the entity at the discretion of the cost auditor, they are no substitute for the cost accounting records that the entity has to maintain under the cost accounting records orders rules, applicable to the industry.
Working Paper Management:
Working paper management improves the cost audit productivity. The essential aspect of such management is quick retrieval of information from the files of working papers. The filing system should be sound. Normally working papers are organized into: Permanent file, Working file and Correspondence and Administrative file. Papers which normally do not change from year to year are kept in the Permanent file. Permanent file will have write-up on the organization, manufacturing process etc. The Permanent file is updated at the beginning of every audit, making changes, if any, since the previous audit. Working paper file contains details relating to the year of audit. There will be a separate working paper file for every year. This file should be properly indexed and divided into convenient sections. File management is a matter of personal preference of the cost auditor.
- Quality Control policies and procedures should be implemented both at the level of the cost audit firm and individual cost audits. The cost auditor should implement quality control policies and procedures designed to ensure that all cost audits are conducted in accordance with international audit standards or relevant national standards or practices. Quality control procedures, to a large extent, depend on strict adherence to the laws, orders and rules applicable to cost audits. The objectives of the quality control policies and procedures include professional requirements, skills and competence, assigning work to personnel having technical training and proficiency, providing sufficient direction, adequate supervision and review of work.
- Every cost auditor has to continuously, monitor that the quality control policies and procedures are being followed and the quality of work is being effectively achieved. Quality control policies and procedures should not only be communicated to personnel but also explained and some training provided to them to ensure that the policies and procedures are understood and implemented. The cost auditor and his staff members with supervisory responsibilities will consider the professional competence of assistants performing work delegated to them, when deciding the extent of direction, supervision and review appropriate for each assistant. Any delegation of work to assistants should be on the basis of reasonable assurance that such work will be done with due care by persons having the degree of professional competence required in the circumstances.
Cost Audit Programme:
The Cost Auditor should develop a cost audit programme setting forth the procedures that are required to implement the cost audit plan. The programme is basically based on the objectives for each area and must have an appropriate detail to serve as a instrument of instruction to the audit staff. It also serves as a means to control the adequate execution of cost audit work. It helps the audit staff to perform their jobs in a systematic way and also enables them not to overlook any important point while conducting audit. Furthermore, it facilitates the Cost Auditor to make a final review of the work already done, before signing cost audit report.