Keyport, Washington - Jaime Perez is on a mission at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport to eliminate the stigma of audits.
Perez, the Managers Internal Control (MIC) program coordinator at NUWC Division, Keyport, is trying to educate the workforce that audits are a normal part of oversight and do not occur solely for the purpose of correcting deficiencies.
“Audits, which are also called reviews, inspections, or assessments, are an opportunity for us to validate what we already know,” said Perez. “They can also be an opportunity to share best practices or have best practices shared with us from other commands.”
The purpose of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) audits are to ensure compliance and that organizations are successfully supporting the NAVSEA Campaign Plan 2.0 pillars of efficiently delivering ships and submarines on time, nimbly improving warfighting capability and systems for the warfighters, and ensuring tax dollars are responsibly spent by maintaining a culture of affordability. Perez said audits also have an added dimension by ensuring the safety of all NAVSEA personnel.
“Audits and inspections can also help keep us safe, similar to what restaurant health code ratings do for customers,” said Perez. “Audits are done periodically and are not typically linked to a known issue. If a person, program, or command show specific deficiencies in an area, the frequency of the specific audit may increase or additional requirements for management and reporting may be added, but the audit is not a punitive measure.”
Gina Meloy is a procurement analyst at NUWC Division, Keyport. Her team recently completed a Procurement Surveillance Program (PSP) audit, and she found it a very helpful regimen to have gone through.
“We ended up getting a rating of highly satisfactory, which we were very pleased about, since we had recently lost some key members of the contracts team,” said Meloy. “The audit identified the areas where we are doing well, and some areas where there is room for improvement, but overall, there weren’t any big surprises.”
Meloy said she has seen many people get nervous prior to audits, but she believes that, if a program or department is being run within standards, being audit-ready should not necessarily be a burden or source of stress.
“There really shouldn’t be a big gap between the normal workflow and being audit ready. If there is, then the division needs to look at its processes more closely,” Meloy said. “If people are being pressured to take shortcuts, or don’t have the time or adequate tools or training to perform the processes properly, then, obviously it needs to be addressed at the appropriate time and level, not put off until an audit is right around the corner.”
Perez said NUWC Division, Keyport had at least 25 external audits last year. One of the goals she has been working on is creating a simple, more streamlined way for departments to get ready for an upcoming audit.
“The Corporate Operations Department is implementing a new process for command-level audits in which there is a single audit liaison that coordinates the administrative requirements of hosting an audit or inspection,” said Perez. “This is a newly implemented effort to coordinate the support functions of hosting an audit to minimize those impacts on the team, division, or department with the responsibility for the content of the audit.”
Perez believes that making audit preparation easier for the command will also have the added benefit of helping to erase the stigma associated with audits and educate the workforce that audits are simply a normal part of life.
“Audits are conducted on major programs, technical areas, and business operations,” said Perez. “In fact, what every part of the command has in common is that most of us are touched by an audit sometime throughout the year.”
Audits are a fact of life in the federal government, and not a punitive measure merely to punish and correct deficiencies. Audits are simply the means by which a higher authority can ensure all the organizations and projects in its area of responsibility are performing at peak level while maintaining a culture of affordability. Audits are, according to Perez, nothing to fear.
“You can think of these as a process to validate that we’re doing what we are supposed to do in order to be in compliance and meet requirements,” said Perez.