PURPOSE OF INTERNAL CONTROL in .NET framework

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PURPOSE OF INTERNAL CONTROL
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The purpose of internal control is to aid the organization s efforts to achieve its operating goals and objectives and to assist in reliable financial reporting and compliance with regulations set out by law or other external sources Essentially, a good control system is what leads the organization through its day-to-day operations, providing rules or guidelines for activities and identifying risks Internal control is there for guidance, but it will not ensure absolute success or definite achievement of business goals Even the most effective systems are subject to human management and changing regulatory, economic, and competitive environments Unfortunately, internal control systems cannot guarantee that financial reports are accurate or that the reports comply with all regulations Achievement of these objectives is affected by things outside the sphere of internal control, including judgment errors, simple miscalculations, and plain old human mistakes The need for an ability to override the system in case of such a mistake also opens the system up to error and corruption
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Roles and Responsibilities Everyone in an organization has responsibility for internal control
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Management The CEO is ultimately responsible for the internal control system He or she must provide leadership and direction to senior managers and review the way they are controlling the business Senior managers then assign responsibility for estab-
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Internal Controls
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lishment of more specific internal control policies and procedures to their employees, and the process repeats itself down to the control activities of the line and staff workers Board of Directors Management is accountable to the board, the members of which are objective and knowledgeable about the organization s activities A strong and effective board needs to ensure that management cannot override the controls that have been put in place or suppress information that is significant to operations in an attempt to cover its tracks or claim ignorance later This type of diligence requires good communication throughout the corporation, especially upward lines Internal Auditors Internal auditors, by their job description and expertise, play a crucial role in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of control systems It is critical that they have enough autonomy and objectivity to report honestly; therefore, they should not be under any undue influence from executives Other Employees If internal control is to be effective, everyone in the organization must take some responsibility for it Almost every employee will create or manipulate information that is input into a control system, so they must be aware of and understand the ramifications of mistakes or poor judgments It is important that all employees have an avenue of communication to report problems or noncompliance; Sarbanes-Oxley s protection for whistleblowers is an explicit recognition of this
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DEVELOPING AN INTERNAL CONTROL SYSTEM
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Fundamental steps in developing an internal control system that addresses the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley are: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Establish a compliance committee Assess risk Set reporting objectives Prepare a formal implementation plan Communicate the procedures Provide training Document processes and risk management Perform continuous evaluation
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SARBANES-OXLEY FOR THE FINANCE PROFESSIONAL
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Establish a Compliance Committee To manage the process of compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporation will need to develop collaborative committees that include, at a minimum, the CEO, the CFO, and the heads of any distinct business units The compliance committee should also consist of executives and/or key staff in the finance, IT, legal, and internal audit departments Depending on the size of the organization, this may not be feasible; the bottom line is to have personnel on the committee who are committed to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and can take a companywide perspective when identifying risks and coming up with solutions The corporation itself should commit to providing a workplace forum that is conducive to a coordinated effort Effective communication and resource deployment will be critical; relying on e-mail communication will not be sufficient The compliance committee should focus on:
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Communicating program objectives and initiatives Managing the overall process and activities Providing training, assessment resources, and tools as necessary Engaging the various departments or business units to identify risks and solutions Keeping the goals of the committee visible and compelling
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Assess Risk As noted earlier, risk assessment is the process of identifying and analyzing both internal and external risks and threats to achievement of identified goals and objectives It can be performed on any specific process within the organization, at all levels of the organization, and for the organization as a whole Common sources of risk include:
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Changes in operating environment New technology New or changed information systems New employees (executives)
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