Generalized Audit Software (GAS) is one of the families of software commonly used for computer-assisted auditing. It is an off-the-shelf package that can provide a means to access and interrogate data maintained on computer storage media. It is one of the tools that IT auditors use to get evidence directly of the quality of records produced and maintained by application systems. There are many GAS packages available in today’s market. However, their quality and diversity varies. It is recommended that you research several packages and talk to other users before purchasing one.
GAS consists of a number of computer program routines that can read computer files, select desired information, perform repetitive calculations, and print reports in an auditor-specified format. Generalized audit software enables auditors to have direct access to computer records and efficiently handle large amounts of data. Since GAS can quickly scan, test and summarize all data in a computer file, many procedures that would normally be performed on a sample basis can be extended to the entire population. In addition, the use of GAS typically leads to a better understanding of automated systems and computer-based operations. It can make auditing more interesting and challenging and is an excellent way to introduce auditors to the evidence-gathering process and electronic data file integrity checks within an IT environment.
Generalized audit software can perform the following audit tasks:
1. Examine records for quality, completeness, consistency and accuracy (review bank demand files for unusually large deposits and disbursements)
2. Verify calculations and make calculations (recalculated interest rates, Bank COT, etc. and verify payroll wages Net salary, deductions, etc.)
3. Compare data on separate files (compare current and past period stock files for obsolete and slow moving items)
4. Select and print audit tests (confirmation of accounts receivable, reimbursement of customers over a certain amount).
5. Summary and re-sequence data (re-sequence inventory records by location to facilitate physical observations).
6. Compare data obtained using other audit procedures with company records (compare creditor statements with paid files).
Some advanced GASs may include a wide variety of audit functions. They enable even novice accountants to perform professional jobs. Apart from the wide range of audit features and ease of use, the advanced GAS is now able to access, analyze and report on a variety of files stored in heterogeneous hardware and software platforms distributed either through a company’s intranet facilities or other means including the global computer networks. Two common names in these functions are ACL and IDEA.
GAS provides the distinct advantage over conventional programming languages by being relatively easy to learn and use. Most GAS systems require only approx. one week of training and skills can be gained after several weeks of use. In addition, GAS specification coding typically requires a fraction of the coding items required for conventional programming languages. This allows faster coding and reduces the likelihood of errors.