ECA: A renewed focus on IT audit – the ECA and effective EU funds management


Organisations have traditionally seen IT audit as a useful practice for fostering trust in information systems and ensuring the availability and protection of information assets. That is why IT audit is often assimilated to internal audit. As supreme audit institutions, we are seeing our auditees becoming ever more reliant on technology, not only to implement policies and carry out everyday operations, but also to deliver services to citizens and take decisions, which are increasingly becoming data-driven, systems-based and algorithmic.

As these supporting technologies are becoming more complex, we have to develop an in-depth understanding of the IT-related risks and the cybersecurity threats that our auditees need to manage in order to ensure the continuity of their business-critical functions.

To address these new realities and to maintain a high level of quality in our audit work, the ECA has brought in-house the necessary expertise to create a new IT audit service. This team of experienced IT specialists participate in audits, putting their technological knowledge and expertise at the service of the ECA’s performance and financial audits. This new team also leads an organisation-wide strategy to develop IT audit knowledge and ensure that IT risks are systematically considered at the planning stages of all our audits.

One of the first priorities for the ECA has been to gain a better understanding of the European Commission’s main systems and their planned developments. Indeed, the European Commission has ambitious digitalisation plans, in particular with respect to the systems underpinning the management of EU funds. As practitioners will know, when new systems are introduced, managing change is a complex, costly and risk-prone process, whose importance cannot be overstated.  By developing an in-depth understanding of the current systems in place, and closely monitoring on-going changes, we aim to identify problems in this transition and contribute to efforts to improve the overall efficiency of the management of EU funds.