Data in audit

Data is growing in importance for auditors. The rapid digitalisation of the government in recent years has generated more data that we can use in our work. Digitalisation and datafication are creating new opportunities and challenges for both what we audit and how.

Why do we use this method?

Data analysis helps us answer different and more complex questions. It is often essential to audit the use of public funds, as much of the information we need is saved in digital systems and is difficult to retrieve without data analysis. The increased use of data in policy means we have to audit it and the government’s use of it more frequently. That is why we audit the government’s IT systems, data management and use of algorithms.

Specific expertise and tools are needed to work with data. The Court of Audit has accordingly set up a specialised team known as the Data Hub. It is made up of auditors with a largely quantitative or statistical background. We are also investing in training and on-the-job courses in data skills for the entire organisation.

What does the method involve?

Many of the audits in which we work with data rely on multiple complex datasets. Our data-related skills therefore include:

  • data source identification;
  • data clean-up;
  • data analysis;
  • data visualisation;
  • data reporting.

Most of the data we use in our audits is produced by the government. As we usually do not own the data, we cannot share it. Where appropriate, we publish data we compile ourselves as open data (see, for instance, coronarekening.rekenkamer.nl). We use scripts so that our work can be reproduced and audited. Where possible we share our scripts with external parties (see our GitLab page).

What are the results?