HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Sept. 27, 2018) – Huntsville Center’s Internal Review office wrapped up its fourth government auditing foundational course of the year Sept. 14, but if interest continues to grow throughout the Army and the Department of Defense, it likely won’t be the last.
Lori Cordell-Meikle, chief of Internal Review, launched the course with her staff in March as a way to keep pace with the Army Internal Review Program’s evolving requirements in respect to the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards, or GAGAS.
The course started as a partnership between Huntsville Center and the U.S. Army Reserve Command, but has expanded since March. The original plan was to offer two classes this fiscal year, but Cordell-Meikle said the course has since “taken on a life of its own.”
GAGAS, also known as “The Yellow Book,” is the framework of rules and standards within which Army Internal Review Program professionals operate as they provide internal auditing in the domains of finance, policy, acquisition, programs, training and others.
From 2005 to 2013, most of the Army’s auditors were classified as accountants and were therefore not subject to GAGAS during that timeframe, Cordell-Meikle said. The course is a way for auditors to renew and strengthen their proficiency with GAGAS. Cordell-Meikle said she anticipated the change even before 2013 and took steps to ensure her office stayed as current with the standards as possible.
“When I came in the door I understood the need to comply with GAGAS,” said Cordell-Meikle, who previously served as a lead auditor for NASA. “The drawback for me was that I did not have adequate staff to do it.”
While recruiting to fill those positions, she looked for candidates with strong audit backgrounds who were familiar with GAGAS compliance. Once she had a full staff, her office was well-positioned to share their expertise.
“I knew we could instruct it because my folks know how to do it,” she said.
The instructors have now provided refresher training for more than 130 auditors of varying skill levels from 14 organizations throughout the Army and the Department of Defense. Students have traveled to Huntsville from as far away as Germany, South Korea and Saudi Arabia for the four-day class.
“With each class, we have been getting more and more responses indicating the need,” Cordell-Meikle said. “One thing that the Department of the Army did was they sent out a notice to all the training coordinators across the Army, opening it up to anybody who wanted to take it. That response has been overwhelming.”
Bret Mullinix, director of Internal Review and Audit Compliance with Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal, said the course is filling an important gap in training for the Army IR community.
“I had my entire staff come to the training as a refresher due to our being local here,” Mullinix said. “I also used it as a team-building event.”
Mullinix commended the instructors and said he hopes they continue to refine and polish the curriculum.
“Instructors did a really good job,” Mullinix said. “I know from experience that it’s quite difficult developing a course curriculum from scratch.”
There’s already another class tentatively scheduled for November, and Cordell-Meikle said she is strategizing ways to expand and improve the course as interest says strong.
“It’s good to be able to tell the Corps of Engineers perspective, but I think what will continue to make the class very strong – even though it’s Corps-led – is that we have the experience levels from all the other Army organizations,” she said. “We are reaching out to individuals who’ve been in our class, trying to develop a cadre of instructors that mirror the Army.”
Cordell-Meikle gave a special shout-out to her staff for stepping up to what has become a job of its own.
“I roped my staff into it and some of them probably hate me for that,” she said with a laugh. “But I also see it as an opportunity not only to provide visibility but also assist us in maintaining our competence. The more you talk it and teach it, and you’re coming back and implementing it every day, the more you know it.”