Here to help

Alicia Filak

Alicia Filak, Head of Internal Audit Services at Fermilab, wrote this column.

People often think that the Office of Internal Audit has only a single mission: to verify that our laboratory spends taxpayer dollars in compliance with various rules. However, our purview also includes administrative and operational areas throughout the laboratory. We use our audit methodology and knowledge to assess a variety of processes and assist with continuous improvement initiatives.

The Office of Internal Audit comprises three people: Susan Meduga, Kevin Klepper and myself. We reside in the Directorate and report to the FRA Board of Directors Audit Committee. We are part of the corporate governance structure and are here to help a wide range of departments at the laboratory. Every year we conduct about seven audit projects based on our risk assessment of key functional areas, as well as advisory services. For example, in addition to our annual audits of expenditures, our plan may include assessing new employee on-boarding processes, evaluating procurement administration or reviewing information technology implementation projects.

Through our audits, we help assure multiple stakeholders—including Fermilab management, the Audit Committee and the Department of Energy—that internal controls operate as designed. Internal controls function as a safety net intended to prevent or detect errors, or mitigate risks. They also serve as an insurance policy. Our work products and suggestions help management maintain a reasonable level of internal controls as well as identify issues before they become significant.

A poster with IA’s vision statement hangs on the wall of our office area, and we try our best to embody its spirit: Use leading practices to continually improve the quality of compliance and advisory services provided to our customers. We challenge ourselves to raise the bar in terms of best practices and emerging trends in the audit profession.

IA is integral to the laboratory’s contractor assurance system (CAS). The audit procedures we perform in the Finance Section help support the Director’s Annual Assurance Memorandum to the DOE. In addition to the chief financial officer, other CAS management system owners request audit services to help verify that their procedures are effectively implemented and comply with requirements. We currently serve on the Laboratory Director’s Advisory Council on Integrated Assurance and provide suggestions as deemed necessary. As CAS continues to mature, we look forward to working with management system owners to contribute to the success of Fermilab. We are here to help!