Financial Audit: The Department of Education's Fiscal Year 2004 Management Representation Letter on Its Financial Statements

GAO-05-594R Published: Jun 23, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2005.
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Highlights

The Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is required to annually prepare and submit audited financial statements of the U.S. government to the President and the Congress. We are required to audit these consolidated financial statements (CFS) and report on the results of our work. In connection with fulfilling our requirement to audit the fiscal year 2004 CFS, we evaluated the Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) financial reporting procedures and related internal control over the process for compiling the CFS, including the management representation letter provided us by Treasury and OMB. Written representation letters from management, required by U.S. generally accepted government auditing standards, ordinarily confirm oral representations given to the auditor, indicate and document the continuing appropriateness of those representations, and reduce the possibility of a misunderstanding between management and the auditor. The purpose of this report is to communicate our observations on the Department of Education's (Education) fiscal year 2004 management representation letter. Our objective is to help ensure that future management representation letters submitted by Education are sufficient to help support Treasury and OMB's preparation of the CFS management representation letter and our ability to rely on the representations in that letter in combination with individual federal agency representation letters. We reviewed five key areas in each management representation letter: (1) signatures, (2) materiality thresholds, (3) representations, (4) summary of unadjusted misstatements, and (5) reliability of representations. In reviewing the management representation letters, we applied the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' (AICPA) Codification of Auditing Standards, AU Section 333, Management Representations; OMB Bulletin 01-02, Audit Requirements for Federal Financial Statements; and the GAO/President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) Financial Audit Manual (FAM) section 1001, entitled "Management Representations."

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education In the future, Education's Chief Financial Officer should ensure that the management representation letter includes materiality thresholds or such thresholds be provided separately to Treasury and OMB.
Closed – Implemented
As part of our FY 2006 audit of the consolidated financial statements (CFS) of the U.S government, we evaluated the agencies' management representation letters for a materiality threshold used for certain representations in the letter. Education's FY 2006 management representation letter included the materiality threshold used for certain representations.
Department of Education In the future, Education's Chief Financial Officer should ensure that the management representation letter fully includes all representations from the FAM that are applicable to Education.
Closed – Implemented
As part of our FY 2005 audit of the consolidated financial statements (CFS) of the U.S government, we evaluated the agencies' management representation letters to determine whether all applicable representations from the FAM were fully provided. Education's FY 2005 management representation letter fully provided all applicable representations from the FAM.
Department of Education In the future, Education's Chief Financial Officer should ensure that the management representation letter includes a complete summary of unadjusted misstatements, if there are any uncorrected misstatements, that also distinguishes between misstatements affecting intragovernmental accounts and misstatements affecting accounts with the public.
Closed – Implemented
As part of our audit of the fiscal year 2005 consolidated financial statements (CFS) of the U.S. government, we evaluated each agency's Summary of Unadjusted Misstatements (SUM) to determine whether it was sufficient to help support Treasury's and GAO's preparation of the CFS SUM. Education's fiscal year 2005 SUM included all the necessary information. Therefore, Education's fiscal year 2005 SUM was sufficient to help support Treasury's and GAO's preparation of the CFS SUM.
Department of Education The Department of Education's Inspector General, with the contracted independent public accountant, should work with the department to help ensure that future management representation letters meet the key conditions noted as needing improvements in this report.
Closed – Implemented
As part of our FY 2006 audit of the consolidated financial statements (CFS) of the U.S government, we evaluated the agencies' management representation letters to determine whether they were sufficient to help support Treasury's and OMB's preparation of the CFS management representation letter. Education's FY 2006 management representation letter provided the materiality threshold used for certain representations. As a result, Education's management representation letter has met all of the key conditions noted as needing improvements.

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