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Applied Research and Methods: Assessing Data Reliability

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Technical Report

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United States Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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Data from outside sources are often central to audits. While these data are simply one type of evidence that auditors rely on, appropriately assessing their reliability may require more technical effort than other types of evidence. The purpose of this guide is to describe the principles behind and steps involved in assessing the reliability of data used for audits. This guide is consistent with the Yellow Book the 2018 Government Auditing Standards which defines generally accepted government auditing standards GAGAS, and supersedes GAOs 2009 guidance, Assessing the Reliability of Computer-Processed Data.1 This guidance covers computer-processed data, referred to in this document simply as data, which result from computer processing or entering data into a computer system.2 Data can vary in form and may be housed in electronic files or tables in published reports. A more detailed discussion of the types of data covered by this guidance is found in section 1.Various tests of sufficiency and appropriateness are used for all types of evidence, whether or not they are part of a dataset, to assess whether evidence standards are met. Because assessing sufficiency and appropriateness of data may require a more technical review than other types of evidence, it may appear that such data are subject to a higher standard of testing than other evidence. This is not the case. This guide provides a flexible, risk-based framework for data reliability assessments that can be geared to the specific circumstances of each engagement.

Subject Categories:

  • Information Science

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