Life As An AGO Auditor
"With a global shift towards digitalisation, coupled with the availability of greater computing power and data science advancements, this presents new opportunities for AGO and the audit industry to capitalise and augment our audit processes."
Mr Khoo Wen Yong, Senior Assistant Director (Digital Innovation Office)
Interesting Aspects as an Auditor
The role of an auditor is dynamic. It requires a range of skillsets from technical audit knowledge, strong writing and presentation skills, to data analytics capabilities. You will experience a change in environment and team composition approximately every 3 to 9 months depending on the types of audit engagements, and get to interact with officers at the Whole-of-Government level.
One interesting aspect about being an auditor is that you get to understand and audit the processes in different Government Agencies. This helps to develop a macro view on how the Government operates, as well as to understand a wide range of processes that you would not get if you were to stay in a single role for extended period.
Work in the Digital Innovation Office (DIO)
From 2018 onwards, AGO started to embark on more data analytics and automation initiatives. As I had self-learned some programming skills (such as VBA and basic python), and worked on small scale automation projects, I was deployed to the Digital Innovation Office (DIO) to scale up such initiatives.
Since then, DIO has up-skilled the general proficiency of our officers in data analytics and automation capabilities through courses, sharing sessions and on job trainings. We have also worked with audit teams to deploy a wide range of projects, involving data visualisation, robotic process automation, advanced data preparation and machine learning models. This has enabled our audit teams to streamline their processes, enjoy man-hour savings, and to provide a new dimension to our audits that was not possible through traditional audit steps.
Continuous learning and upskilling opportunity
AGO places high emphasis on continuous learning and professional development of our officers. I was given the opportunity to pursue a full-time Master of IT in Business (Analytics) from SMU in 2020, which allowed me to further hone my data science technical skills. Through the course, I covered programming and advanced concepts, such as text analytics, graph analytics and machine learning model development. I was able to work with audit teams to apply these concepts when I came back to AGO.
AGO has periodic engagements with audit institutions from other countries. In September 2022, I was part of the delegation sent on a learning trip to the Board of Audit and Inspection of the Republic of Korea (BAI), to learn more about BAI’s digital and technological transformation strategy, including the IT systems developed by BAI and BAI’s manpower development plans.
Through the trip, I got to better understand how the Koreans developed their data analytics system and electronic audit management system, and also took away key learning points that we could consider in our own initiatives. While there is a difference in language and culture, it was interesting to note that auditors still shared certain similar traits, such as professional scepticism and the need for independence in our reporting process.
Looking back at the past 10 years in AGO, it has been a rewarding journey and I have never regretted my decision to join AGO. Looking forward to the exciting times ahead!
"Overall, AGO provides an environment of continuous learning and support for officers in their professional development journey and I have benefited a lot from it! "
Miss Ong Jia Qi, Assistant Director (AGO Scholar)
About AGO Auditing Service Scholarship
I chose to apply for the AGO Auditing Service Scholarship, as I was very drawn to the work and the mission that AGO prides itself on. My personal values resonated with that of AGO’s. Also, I have always wanted to join the public service when I was young, and wanted to be part of this greater mission in contributing back to the society.
Interesting Aspects as an Auditor
I have had the opportunity to audit different agencies and conduct different types of audits at AGO. Auditing different agencies allows me to understand things from a strategic perspective and gain an exposure to what different agencies does. Furthermore, there is no audit that is ever the same, which is something that challenges and propels me every day! Besides that, I also do enjoy working together in teams with my teammates, where everyone brings a different perspective to the discussion which makes our audit work interesting.
Besides audit work, I was involved in the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) project team whereby the team developed an ERM framework for AGO, as well as a risk assessment methodology for certain types of audits. Overall, it was a very meaningful experience for me, as I had always been very interested in learning such frameworks since university days. The project allowed the application of theoretical frameworks (COSO) into a real-life scenario, which in this case refers to AGO’s context. It is heartening to see how such a framework can potentially benefit us in the future, especially when we are operating in an increasingly challenging operating environment.
I had the opportunity to be attached to one of the private audit firms for 6 months, in their Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector. The experience thus far has been an eye-opening one, as I got to experience working in the private sector and understand their work culture and audit practices. I also had hands-on experience on their analytical tools and audit platform which I believe is relevant even in the public sector due to the rampant move towards more digitalization. In addition, skills such as project management and client management were some valuable lessons that I took away as well.
Professional Development and Upskilling
AGO prioritises on professional development for all officers. Asides from the foundation course that all new officers would go through, AGO sponsors professional certifications to allow officers to upskill themselves.
Under AGO’s sponsorship, I have taken the Certified Internal Auditor Certification and am currently in progress of completing my Singapore Chartered Accountant Qualification. Besides these, AGO also launched the Skill-Up programme a few years back, whereby officers are encouraged to pursue courses outside of work, which is a good initiative for all AGO officers to broaden their perspectives and learn new skills.