Generalized Audit Software (GAS) is one of the families of Software that is frequently utilized in Computer-Assisted Auditing. It is an off-the-shelf package that can provide a means to gain access to and interrogate data maintained on computer storage media. It is one of the tools IT Auditors utilize to obtain evidence directly on the quality of the records produced and maintained by application systems. There are many GAS packages available in today’s market. However, their quality and diversity do vary. It is recommended that you investigate several packages and talk with other users before purchasing one.
GAS consists of a series 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 computerized records and to deal effectively with large quantities of data. Since GAS can quickly scan, test, and summarize all the data in a computer file, many procedures that ordinarily would 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 of introducing Auditors to evidence collection process and electronic data file integrity checking within an IT Environment.
Generalized Audit Software can accomplish the following audit tasks:
1. Examine records for quality, completeness, consistency, and correctness (review bank demand deposit files for unusually large deposits and withdrawals)
2. Verify calculations and make computations (re-compute interest, Bank COT, etc. and verify payroll Net pay, Deductions, etc.)
3. Compare data on separate files (compare current and prior-period inventory files for obsolete and slow-moving items)
4. Select and print audit samples (accounts receivable confirmations, customer refunds over a certain amount).
5. Summarize and re-sequence data (re-sequence inventory items by location to facilitate physical observations).
6. Compare data obtained through other audit procedures with company records (compare creditor statements with accounts payable files).
Some advanced GAS can include a wide variety of audit functions. They enable even novice-Auditors to perform professional jobs. Apart from the wide range of audit functions and the ease of use, the advanced GAS are now able to access, analyze and report on a range of different files saved in heterogeneous hardware and software platforms which are distributed through either an enterprise Intranet facilities or other means, including the global computer networks. Two common names in these features are ACL and IDEA.
GAS provides the distinct advantage over conventional programming languages of being relatively easy to learn and use. Most GAS systems require only about one week of training, and proficiency may be attained after several weeks of use. Furthermore, GAS specification coding, typically requires a fraction of the coding entries needed for conventional programming languages. This permits faster coding and reduces the likelihood of errors.