Definition of Internal Controls Gartner Finance Glossary

Internal Controls Definition

Accounting controls are a set of procedures that are implemented by a firm to help ensure the validity and accuracy of its own financial statements. What’s more, internal controls can Internal Controls Definition be circumvented through collusion, where employees whose work activities are normally separated by internal controls, work together in secret to conceal fraud or other misconduct.

Organizational charts provide a visual presentation of lines of authority and periodic updates of job descriptions ensures that employees are aware of the duties they are expected to perform. Equipment, inventories, cash, checks and other assets should be secured physically and periodically counted and compared with amounts shown on control records. For example, the periodic physical confirmation of equipment by individual departments is a physical security control. Virus detection software should be current and updated regularly to help protect integrity of systems. Hardware and access controls should be changed periodically and rigorously safeguarded to protect from unauthorized access to database, computer systems, etc. Special physical and software controls should be developed for systems containing sensitive and/or confidential information. Transactions should be authorized and approved to help ensure the activity is consistent with departmental or institutional goals and objectives.

Detective Controls

Ultimately, it is CSU management’s responsibility to ensure that controls are in place. That responsibility is delegated to each area of operation, w​hich must ensure that internal controls are established, properly documented, and maintained. Every employee has some responsibility for making this internal control system function. Therefore, all CSU employees need to be aware of the concept and purpose of internal controls. Internal audit’s role is to assist management in their oversight and operating responsibilities through independent audits and consultations designed to evaluate and promote the systems of internal control.

  • Weakness means a flaw in the SOQ that increases the risk of unsuccessful Contract performance.
  • Numerical sequences of transactions are accounted for, and file totals are controlled and reconciled with prior balances and control accounts.
  • Also, all personnel should be responsible for communicating upward problems in operations, noncompliance with the code of conduct, or other policy violations or illegal actions.
  • Without internal controls, inaccuracy will occur in the preparation of a company’s financial statement.
  • Regularly testing the controls to verify they are performing as intended.

Pertinent information must be identified, captured and communicated in a form and time frame that enables people to carry out their responsibilities. Effective communication must occur in a broad sense, flowing down, across and up the organization.

Early history of internal control

Another way of looking at internal control is that these activities are needed to mitigate the amount and types of risk to which a firm is subjected. Controls are also useful for consistently producing reliable financial statements. Controls can be evaluated and improved to make a business operation run more effectively and efficiently. For example, automating controls that are manual in nature can save costs and improve transaction processing. If the internal control system is thought of by executives as only a means of preventing fraud and complying with laws and regulations, an important opportunity may be missed.

Why Are Internal Controls Important?

Internal controls are the mechanisms, rules, and procedures implemented by a company to ensure the integrity of financial and accounting information, promote accountability, and prevent fraud. Besides complying with laws and regulations and preventing employees from stealing assets or committing fraud, internal controls can help improve operational efficiency by improving the accuracy and timeliness of financial reporting.The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enacted in the wake of the accounting scandals in the early 2000s, seeks to protect investors from fraudulent accounting activities and improve the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures.