On the occasion of the publication of the specialised book “Gebarungs- und Geschäftsführungsprüfung in Genossenschaften” (“Audit of Performance and Management in Cooperatives”), in which the result of the biennial project of the University of Innsbruck commissioned by the IGA is demonstrated, the annual IGA conference was held as an expert conference this year.
After a short introduction by the chairman Mr Arnulf Perkounigg, the substantial contents of this study were presented. The study defines the audit of performance as a holistic analysis of the cooperative in order to evaluate, whether the management of the cooperative is carried out adequately with regard to realisation of the aims of the cooperative business activity. This was necessary, as the audit of performance is only circumscribed by the legislative body but no detailed explanations are given.
After that, Ms Monika Wurzer attended to the basics of audit of performance and management and outlined the audit process. Then she presented the audit model developed in the framework of her studies. It is allegorised as three-dimensional cube, whereupon the three dimensions include the cooperative as an audit object, the aims of the cooperative business activity and the leading systems.
With help of this audit model Prof Rudolf Steckel discussed the following questions: What does this model achieve? How is the audit allegorised in the particular audit areas? Is it possible to standardise audit criteria? These questions are reviewed in the research paper. Thus, the paper represents a base for development of audit manuals and audit guidelines.
Within the dialogue, which was held by Mr Arnulf Perkounigg, together with Mr Josef Aschermayr MBA, manager of the section finance and sustainability of the Austrian Federal Court of Auditors, and Dr Wolfgang Wesener, vice-president of the iwp, the question was discussed to what extent the present research results can be used, in order to optimise audit processes in the private and public economy. Josef Aschermayr appreciated the research work as a good, extensive and systematic project, which shows many similarities with the audit of the Austrian Federal Court of Auditors. However, he also determined that the Federal Court of Auditors is increasingly moving away from the holistic audit approach and is increasingly carrying out cross comparisons by determination of “best-practice-examples”. From the financial auditors view, Dr Wolfgang Wesener took a stand and stated that he could imagine the performance audit as an additional information source especially for board of directors of companies subject to audits, which currently cannot be covered by the internal control system. However, there is no legal basis for this extended audit operation so that it is only possible on a voluntary basis. Conflicts of interest cannot be precluded since the financial auditor – in contrast to the auditor of cooperatives which is appointed by an audit association – receives his audit assignment directly from the company that is subject to the audit.
Together with the managers of the audit section of the Bavarian Cooperative Association and the Raiffeisen Association of South Tyrol as well as the general auditor of the Austrian Raiffeisen Association Mr Arnulf Perkounigg was discussing similarities and differences of performance / management audit in the particular countries or rather on the second alliance level (“zweite Verbundebene”) within the closing interviews. Dr Alexander Büchel confirmed that also in the German Cooperative Law the item “compliance” is playing an essential role, however for the rest the regulations vary in legal phrasing and also in the style. Dr Robert Nicolussi gave an overview of the fragmentation of the legal base regulations in Italy and hence also in South Tyrol. He pointed out that especially the cooperative audit in South Tyrol, for which a new legal basis has been created recently, is strongly geared to the Austrian legal situation. Mr Hans Chaloupka went into the special challenge of the performance audit within the three-stage alliance and inter alia pointed out that audit focal points need to be developed differently due to characteristics of the system.
At the end of the symposium, Dr Rudolf Steckel appealed to the participants to deal with and implement this study also in practice and to appreciate the present model as food for thought with possibilities for development.
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