Data analytics, the essential and underutilized tool in detecting, assessing, and preventing fraud

The unrelenting advancement of technology is affecting virtually every aspect of our lives.  And as technology becomes more pervasive, so do schemes to commit fraud. Fraudsters are taking advantage of users’ inexperience with newer technology and weaknesses in the controls to perpetuate these schemes.  This is proving to be a challenge for evaluators, auditors and investigators in their efforts to identify and detect fraud.  However, technology is also a tool…

September 17, 2017

Seeing Analytics

I am at the end of day two of teaching an introductory ACL to a really good group of students.  They are quick to grasp the concepts as we go through different commands and ACL functionality.  They are able to answer pointed questions like: give me three ways to ‘sort’ a file. However, when I ask, “where could you use ‘insert an ACL command here’ in your audit work?” they…

August 26, 2017


Stratify has to be one of my favourite commands.  It quickly gives more details regarding the distribution (Low, Medium, and High) of the selected numeric fields (e.g. number of low, medium, high dollar contracts).  This can help with sampling (which I don’t really like to do).  The records in the “High” categories may number only a few, but they often represent a significant portion of the amount.  A stratified sampling…

July 3, 2017

Year 30 + P-card fraud

I didn’t realize how quickly it would take to get to 30 years when posting one blog per week for each year (30 weeks).  Even drawing some of the posts out to two weeks didn’t add much.  So now I am posting additional analysis performed over the years.  Another thing I didn’t take into account was that I would continue to perform analysis – even after I retired.  So I…

January 7, 2017

Year 26 – 2013 – Payroll

 I haven’t looked at payroll very often; at least not as often as I think I should or would have liked.  Payroll can be a significant cost to an organization – easily representing 50% of a company’s total expenditures in some industries – but senior management seems to think that the controls over payroll are good and therefore it is low risk.   This belief is often transferred to audit even…

October 31, 2016

Year 25 – 2012 – Vacation Leave and Sick days

 I always jump at the chance to perform analysis in non-financial areas.  Not only does this expand my knowledge of audit risks and different business processes, but it also further demonstrates the flexibility and power of analytics.  Some of the analytics I have perform include areas such as environmental control, HR – staffing, succession planning, transportation, maintenance, IT security, system conversion, control testing and risk.  Normally, there is an element…

October 24, 2016

Year 21 – 2008 – part 2 – Payroll and Vacation

No having to rely on samples allowed us to perform audits more efficiently and effectively.  The audit results were more easily defendable (no arguments about the representativeness of the sample and the validity of the extrapolation).  It also supported better coverage and more comprehensive audits. Vacation audit – the company allowed employees to carry forward vacation days – but different unions had negotiated different amounts.  Depending on the union to…

September 5, 2016

A little about me…

Before I begin, I must recognize the support from my wife (aka “Kitten” – which she does not like to be called). Not only did she allow me to take a year’s leave without pay so I could write my books and kick start my consulting business, but she was also my go-to person when I need help with the logic and programming behind a difficult analysis. Many the times…

February 16, 2016