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Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data
Nancy Kingsbury (au)
Computer-processed data from outside sources are often central to audit reports. While these data are simply another type of evidence to rely on, assessing them may require more technical effort than other types. Computer-processed data, resulting from computer processing or entering data into a computer system, may be data in electronic files or tables in published reports, including paper copies. Intended to demystify the assessment of computer-processed data, this GAO guide is consistent with the Yellow Book — the 2007 Govt. AuditingStandards — which defines generally accepted govt. auditingstandards (GAGAS), and it replaces the 2002 Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data (GAO-03-273G). Because assessing computer-processed data requires more technical tests, it may seem that such data are subject to a higher standard of testing than otherevidence. This is not the case. For ex., we apply many of the sametests of sufficiency and appropriateness that we apply to other types ofevidence, but in assessing computer-processed data, we focus on one test in the evidence standard — appropriateness -- which includes validity and reliability, which in turn includes the completeness and accuracy of the data. This guide therefore provides a flexible, risk-based framework for data reliability assessments that can be geared to the specific circumstances of each engagement. The ultimate goal of data reliability assessment is to determine whether you can use the data for your intended purposes. This guide is designed to help you make an appropriate, defensible assessment in the most efficient manner. Illus.
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