Title: The UK public sector VfM audit expectations gap: evidence from the informed groups

Authors: Abdelhafid Benamraoui; Yousef Ali Alwardat; Yusuf Karbhari

Addresses: University of Westminster, School of Finance and Accounting, Westminster Business School 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS, UK ' Faculty of Economics and Administration, King Abdulaziz University, 21589, Saudi Arabia ' Department of Accounting and Finance, Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU, UK

Abstract: The paper investigates the current practice of Value for Money (VfM) auditing in the UK public sector organisations. We focus primarily on two main research questions: to what extent an expectation gap exists between the VfM auditors and auditees and what lessons can be drawn from VfM audit practice. To address these critical research questions, we conduct 39 semi-structured interviews with key external auditors and public sector organisations' representatives who have direct experience of VfM process and audit. The study results reveal significant differences between auditors' and managers' perceptions of VfM audit materiality, audit evidence and the true and fair view of auditors' reports and public sector performance audit. Intriguingly, the study finds evidence that auditors are not performing their VfM audit responsibility with the level of professional and technical expertise as expected by the organisations' managers. Overall, our findings provide further empirical evidence on the public VfM audit practice in the UK and draws attention to some of the ambiguities associated with what auditors perceive as their roles and what auditees' expect from them.

Keywords: audit expectation gap; audit evidence; materiality; performance audit; public sector; true and fair view; UK; VfM audit.

DOI: 10.1504/IJAAPE.2022.123307

International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, 2022 Vol.18 No.1, pp.61 - 81

Received: 01 May 2021
Accepted: 20 Oct 2021

Published online: 08 Jun 2022 *

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