GAO: Data mining helps audits

A General Accounting Office report released March 25 concluded that its own use of data mining is useful for finding some, though not all, accounting discrepancies. GAO identified cases in which data mining tools extracted unusual government credit card purchases -- for example, those made at toy stores -- which auditors tracked down. While "data mining alone is generally not sufficient to identify systemic breakdowns in controls," it is useful in understanding the scope of misuse and for providing managers with examples of abuse, according to the report. With the right mix of technology, expertise and data security measures, data mining can be an important tool to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of audits and investigations, GAO said. The report is online at http://www.gao

.gov/new.items/d03591t.pdf.

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