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By Janet David

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (January 14-27, 1999 - The Island Tribune)---The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Public Auditor's Office has passed an external quality control review, which shows that the office's internal controls system "was suitably designed and provided reasonable assurance that applicable government auditing standards were followed in its audit work."

The review, conducted by the Association of Pacific Island Public Auditors (APIPA), covered the period from October 1, 1996 to July 31, 1998. The review indicated only one deficiency in the PAO's compliance with government auditing standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States.

Lawrence Gambone, acting FSM Public Auditor, said the cited deficiency was related to education and training requirements. As stated in the APIPA report, "seven of the nine auditors reviewed did not meet the continuing education and training requirements."

According to Gambone, this is the first time the Office of the FSM Public Auditor underwent a review, in accordance with United States Government Audit Standards. Gambone is satisfied with the results of the review, saying that the one deficiency found in the report was expected. Gambone explained that Chapter 3.6 of the Government Auditing Standards requires that each auditor, responsible for planning, directing, or reporting on audits, should complete at least 80 hours of continuing education every two years. A minimum of 20 hours should be completed in any one year, and individuals responsible for planning or directing an audit should complete a minimum of 24 of the 80 hours in subjects directly related to the government environment and to government auditing.

Gambone said that, in 1997, several auditors did not achieve the required number of hours of training because of budget constraints. Despite that, the review still found that the quality of audits is not lacking, added Gambone. This, he said, meant that the lack of training in 1997 had not affected the quality of audits. Gambone maintained that this qualification to the report has already been rectified, in 1998, and will no longer be considered an exception.

The Office of the President is aware of the review. Tony Otto, Special Assistant to the President, said the President's Office has been informed that someone on the FSM Public Auditor's staff will set up training programs and schedules, and maintain proper files and records of training for all auditors, as required by the U.S. Government Auditing Standards. "The Office of the President is very pleased that the Office of the FSM Public Auditor has satisfied all the applicable government auditing standards," said Otto.

Gambone said passing the Quality Review is a major accomplishment for the Office of Public Auditor, and that it has a positive impact on the Federated States of Micronesia. "It confirms the confidence that the U.S. and FSM governments have placed on the products of the office, and it establishes, without question, that we have complied with applicable professional standards and government regulations, when conducting our reviews," Gambone concluded.

The Compact of Free Association requires that the FSM government follow U.S. government auditing standards.

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