Office identifies audit emphasis areas for school districts

Jan 11, 2018

Colorful Metal Lockers

School districts have asked the State Auditor's Office for advance notice of what areas upcoming audits will emphasize. The following list identifies areas auditors might focus on to help districts prepare for audits examining fiscal year 2017. These areas are general in nature, and as always the specific areas audited will be determined by a risk-based analysis. Local audit teams also are available all year to answer technical questions and point to additional guidance on specific audit areas.

Self-insurance programs

Many districts participate in self-insurance activities that require an audit at least once every two years (RCW 43.09.260). Activities subject to this requirement include: ESD non-risk sharing unemployment compensation pools; workers' compensation; and employee dental plans.

Internal controls over key software applications

School district software systems maintain a significant amount of confidential information pertaining to staff and students. Audits will focus on user access and controls over key financial and student systems.

‘Piggybacking' bid compliance

School districts are using national purchasing cooperatives more widely, but many of these are based in states with laws that do not align with Washington's.

To demonstrate purchases met Washington and local requirements, districts must have a contract in place with the cooperative or other government and ensure the other government's bid meets the district's own bidding requirements before purchase. Bid specifications should be very specific, and the type of labor and materials should be included and the same. Audits will focus on compliance with Washington laws; we would expect the only difference to be quantities purchased.


Our focus will be on basic enrollment, including Open Doors Programs. We will also perform audit work in bilingual and special education for fiscal year 2017.

For more information, contact Cheryl Thresher, Audit Manager of School Programs, at or (360) 725-5608.