Auditing (Govmnt)
A year or more of audit experience.

Course Description

Do you seem to get caught in an endless cycle of review and revision in your audit shop? In this course, we will diagnose and help resolve the root cause of your problems. The Yellow Book requires the use of the elements of a finding - and if you use them correctly, the writing process is streamlined and your reports strengthened. The author, Leita Hart-Fanta, has reviewed hundreds of findings and shares her insights on how to (and how not to!) coach the team to better writing behaviors. We cover IIA, AICPA, and Yellow Book reporting standards as well as tell you how to meet the standards.

This course qualifies for Yellow Book CPE credit.


Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGAP, CGFM

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGAP, CGFM, converts the complex topics of accounting, finance, auditing, and strategic planning into information that professionals can absorb and use. She’s the author of Accounting Demystified, 2nd Edition; The Four Principles of Happy Cash Flow; and STEP-by-STEP: Building a Persuasive Audit Report.

Leita is an experienced facilitator, having led over 1,200 full or multiday seminars. She has also keynoted numerous conferences and developed over 25 distinct CPE courses, including self-study courses for Western CPE. She was named an Outstanding Presenter by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) in 2014.

Leita worked 5 years with the Texas State Auditor’s Office as both an auditor and a communications specialist. She has owned and operated AuditSkills, a training and professional development company, since 1995. Her clients include EDS, Dell Computer, First Data Corporation, Joseph Eves CPAs, the Texas State Auditor’s Office, among many others.

She’s a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s in business administration. Leita serves on the government conference planning committee of the Texas Society of CPAs (TSCPA) and is a member of the AICPA, TSCPA, IIA, and the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

Course Specifics

Auditing (Govmnt)
Aug 18, 2017
A year or more of audit experience.

Compliance Information

Qualifies for CA Fraud: No

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

Chapter 1

  • Identify what is causing a problem with report writing in a given scenario.
  • Name the main purpose of a financial audit of an organization.
  • Cite the most important element of a persuasive argument found in reports.

Chapter 2

  • Identify a statement of audit scope.
  • Choose a focused objective that will result in a relatively easy reporting process from several options.
  • Specify the relationship of the audit process to the reporting process.
  • Cite a specific part of the audit report from a given example.
  • Name the most difficult component of the audit report to develop.

Chapter 3

  • Choose the initial statement that is most likely to encourage a reader to continue reading from several alternatives.
  • Identify a barrier to a reader in a given selection.
  • Cite a communication mistake in an email.
  • Specify a statement that uses the most professional tone and an audit finding title that is the most negative.
  • Name the common error being displayed in a piece of writing.
  • List the audience best suited to a specific level of detail in an audit report.
  • Choose a phrase that will cause the most negative reaction from an auditee.
  • Cite which statement from a series is differential and professional.

Chapter 4

  • Cite the most important GAO guideline given a specific situation.
  • List a situation where an auditor might be purposely vague in an audit report.
  • Specify the guideline recommended by the GAO for the quality of audit reports.
  • Name the standards that must be followed in a financial audit using Yellow Book standards.

Chapter 5

  • Identify the Yellow Book financial audit reporting requirement that adds a balanced tone to a report.
  • Name the trigger of an audit finding in a given example.
  • Cite why a specific audit finding may be difficult for an auditee to work with.
  • Specify an example of noncompliance.
  • List two good qualities of an audit recommendation.

Chapter 6

  • Cite how to handle a specific issue in a performance audit and what a conclusion might look like.
  • Choose a circumstance under which the distribution of an audit report may be limited.
  • Name an AICPA reporting requirement.

Chapter 7

  • Specify an item that is most likely to be in a report that complies with AICPA SASs.
  • Name the standard that distinguishes between standards and practice advisories.
  • Choose an audit report requirement of the IIA that is not one in a Yellow Book performance audit.
  • Identify an AICPA reporting requirement.
  • Cite an audit standard that requires an action plan and one that requires audit reports and communications to be accurate, timely, objective, and constructive.
  • Specify why an auditor may be blameless when issuing recommendations in an audit.

Chapter 8

  • Choose the next best move in writing up audit findings in a given scenario.
  • Name a troublesome writing habit.
  • List the proper sequence of events in the writing process.
  • Cite the step where an auditor would begin adjusting when moving from a nine-step writing process to a six-step one.

Chapter 9

  • Name the likely root cause in a situation once the cause is rolled up.
  • List an audit subject that might be interesting to the board chairman of an auditee.
  • Choose a good example of a clear action step.
  • Specify a basic expectation missing from a sample outline of a finding.
  • Cite a statement that would likely be found in an executive summary of an audit report.

Chapter 10

  • Cite correct guidance for fleshing out an executive summary and a worthy goal of such a summary.
  • Specify where important background information should be put in a report.
  • Name a task to be done during the drafting stage of the writing process.

Chapter 11

  • Name the first thing to be done when editing an audit report for organization.
  • Cite a reason to revise a recommendation during the organization phase of editing and a readability issue in a sample selection.
  • List the format enhancement that takes the shortest time to implement.
  • List the sequence of steps for editing that makes the most sense and saves time.
  • Choose the finding title that is the most compelling or descriptive.
  • Specify the last task to be completed in editing before issuing the report.
  • Choose the document that has the most appealing format from a list of choices.

Chapter 12

  • List a good beginning question when coaching an auditor on his or her writing and a good way to help fix a statement in his or her report.
  • Cite a counterproductive statement when giving writing feedback.

Table of Contents

Section 1 – What’s up with Your Team’s Writing?

Chapter 1 – Business Writing

Learning Objectives

What’s Your Problem? The Root of Writing Problems

Four Criteria for Good Business Writing

Principle #1: A Good Audit Report Engages the Reader’s Attention

Principle #2: A Good Audit Report Persuades the Reader that Change Should Occur

Principle #3: A Good Audit Report is Mercifully Brief

Principle #4: A Good Audit Report is Clear and Well Organized

How this Text is Organized

Chapter 1 Review Questions

Chapter 2 – Does Your Audit Process Lead to a Good Audit Report?

Learning Objectives

The Report Can Only Be as Good as the Audit Itself

The Worst Audit Ever!

Establish Expectations for your Team

Design a Sound Audit Process: Begin with the Objective, Scope, and Methodology

What Makes a Good Audit Objective?

How Do You Define the Audit’s Scope?

How Do You Define the Audit’s Methodology?

Possible Elements of an Audit Report

Chapter 2 Review Questions

Chapter 3 – Audience, Tone, and Length

Learning Objectives

Who is the Audience?

Who is the Main Audience for Your Report?

How Do You Find out What the Client Cares About?

Create a Report with Layers

Are You Setting up Hurdles for the Reader?

Hurdle #1: Your Job Title

Hurdle #2: How You Have Treated Your Reader in the Past

Hurdle #3: The Format

Hurdle #4: The Weight

Hurdle #5: The Title

Hurdle #6: The First Paragraph

Hurdle #7: The Logic/Organization

Tone is a Tricky Thing

Word Choice

The Rug Lifters: An Analogy

What is the Auditor Going to Do about the Dirt?

Which Approach is Best?

Where Do You Draw the Line?

The “At Your Service!” Approach


Our Tricky Little Minds: Cognitive Distortions that Affect Tone

How Long is Too Long?

How Long Should Your Report Be?

What to Communicate via Email or Memo

Working Papers vs. Audit Reports

You Don’t Have to Please Your English Teacher Anymore!

Good Business Writing is Like a Good Experience with Getting Your Blood Drawn

Chapter 3 Review Questions

Section 2 – The Standards: Yellow Book, AICPA, and IIA

Chapter 4 – Overview of the Auditing Standards

Learning Objectives

Audits, Standards-Setters, and Auditors, Oh My

Types of Audits

Who Are These People? Standards-Setting Bodies

Alternative Titles for Those Not Following Auditing Standards

Audits vs. Investigations

The Relationship of GAO Standards (GAGAS) to Other Standards

Comparing the Standards: The GAO Cares About the Quality of the Report

Chapter 4 Review Questions

Chapter 5 – Reporting Standards for Financial Audits

Learning Objectives

GAGAS Compliance Statement

Reporting on Internal Control and on Compliance with Laws, Regulations, and Provisions of Contracts or Grant Agreements

Example Letter

Reporting Deficiencies in Internal Control, Fraud, Illegal Acts, Violations of Provisions of Contracts or Grant Agreements, and Abuse

Presenting Findings


The Elements of a Finding

Direct Reporting of Fraud, Illegal Acts, Violations of Provisions of Contracts or Grant Agreements, and Abuse

Reporting Views of Responsible Officials

Reporting Privileged and Confidential Information

Report Issuance and Distribution

Chapter 5 Review Questions

Chapter 6 – Reporting Standards for Performance Audits

Learning Objectives

Organization of the performance Audit Reporting Chapter

Report Form

Report Contents

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

Report Findings



Reporting compliance with GAGAS

Reporting Views of Responsible Officials

Reporting Privileged and Confidential Information

Report Issuance and Distribution

Chapter Summary

Chapter 6 Review Questions

Chapter 7 – IIA Standards and AICPA Standards

Learning Objectives

The Institute of Internal Auditor’s International Professional Practices Framework

The CAE is Responsible for Communications

Monitoring Results

AICPA Reporting Standards

Chapter 7 Review Questions

Section 3 – The Writing Process

Chapter 8 – Overview of the Writing Process

Learning Objectives

Streamline Your Writing Using the Nine-Step Process

Tips for Using the Nine-Step Process

Make it Easy on Yourself: Do Each Step Individually

Delay Creating Full Sentences for as Long as Possible

Get Buy-in Along the Way

Share with Others

Create the Executive Summary First

Chapter 8 Review Questions

Chapter 9 – Planning

Learning Objectives

Step #1: Outline the Objective, Scope, and Methodology

Step #2: Outline the Detail Section

Step #2A: Get Your Thoughts on Paper

Mind Mapping



Some Things Need to Be Thrown out!

Step #2B: Fill out the Finding Form

The Finding Form: The Key to Happiness

A Few Rules about Using the Elements

Use All Five Elements

Use Only One of Each Element


The Elements Must Match

What Do You Want the Reader to Do?

Address the Root Cause

Step #2C: Evaluate and Reorganize

Remove Extraneous Information

Step Away for a While

Keep Several Pots Going on the Stove

Step #2D: Evaluate Evidence Gathered

Step #3: Outline an Executive Summary

What is an Executive Summary?

What Does an Executive Summary Contain?

Chapter 9 Review Questions

Chapter 10 – Drafting

Learning Objectives

Step #4: Draft the Objective, Scope, Methodology, Detail, and Executive Summary

Drafting the Objective, Scope, and Methodology

Drafting Detail

Drafting the Executive Summary

Step #5: Draft the Remaining Pieces of the Report

Create the Standard Letters

Develop the Background Info if Necessary

Chapter 10 Review Questions

Chapter 11 – Editing and Formatting

Learning Objectives


Step #6: Edit the Entire Report for Organization


Read This Finding

Now Evaluate This Finding

Step #7: Edit the Entire Report for Readability

Criteria for a Readable Report

A Word or Two on Redundancy

Step #8: Edit for Mechanical Correctness

Find the Talent

Steps to Take Before You Issue Your Report

Just for Fun

Step 9: Formatting: Make it Pretty, Please

Make it Appealing

Develop a Style Guide

Chapter 11 Review Questions

Section 4 – Coaching

Chapter 12 – How to Talk to Folks about Their Writing

Learning Objectives

Coaching is Really All about the Questions

Coaching Tips

Resist Handing over a Marked-up Report

Meet in Person

Apply Agreed-Upon Guidelines

Do Not Concern Yourself with Their Style

Never Rewrite Their Work

How to Talk to the Writer

Ask, Don’t Tell

Respect Their Knowledge

Say, “I Don’t Understand”

Avoid Using the Word You

Bring the Focus Back to the Objective Criteria for Good Writing

Restate What They Have Written or Said

Ask Questions to Redirect the Report Meeting

If the Product is Poor, It’s Probably Your Fault

Chapter 12 Review Questions

Review Question Answers and Rationales

Appendix A – Executive Summaries

Appendix B – Whole Reports



Final Examination

Answer Sheet

Course Evaluation

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