Alison Gumbs on secondment to UK National Audit Office

Alison Gumbs, Office of Auditor General (Virgin Islands UK), recently undertook a secondment with the UK National Audit Office in Newcastle. She writed about her experiences below.


From the 13th of January to the 3rd of March I was afforded a secondment opportunity at the National Audit Office in Newcastle. This was organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK in collaboration with the National Audit Office (UK). As an auditor from the British Virgin Islands’ Office of the Auditor General I saw this as a chance to improve my audit skills as well as gain new knowledge and experience to apply to the audits done at my home office. Never having had such an opportunity I was eager to participate and I was excited about the prospect of learning through active participation.

Despite the initial shock of entering into a much colder climate in Newcastle, I was greeted at the NAO office with a warm welcome and was well inducted into the office processes, staff and my team members. The office space was quite larger and open than I was use to but I later found it beneficial for finding the right person to answer my queries.

At the NAO I joined my assigned financial audit team during the interim audit phase. The first learning opportunity for me was understanding how the work pertaining to the audits were organized and streamlined for easy access by those on the audit team. The use of audit systems and shared systems with clients was important to the audit and helped work to progress efficiently.  Instructions were clear and it became simple to work independently, for the most part, after asking a few questions. My team was approachable and possessed a wealth of knowledge that I took full advantage of by asking questions particularly on areas that I was unable to actively participate during the audit.

I gained the most experience through actual testing exercises during the interim audit. From this, I saw techniques we can adopt to improve the quality of our testing and the standard of information we should source to obtain sufficient and appropriate audit evidence. I also gained insight on how best to incorporate external sources of information to the audit. This practical experience was invaluable and was the most beneficial aspect of the entire experience.

Although the planning phase of the audit was completed prior to my arrival I was able to review some of the planning documents for the current and previous year. Through this I gained a better understanding of what should be involved in the planning of the audit particularly as it relates to risk assessment procedures. Throughout my experience at the NAO I took notes on ways we can incorporate some of what I’ve learned to improve the work done on our audits accordingly.

On my final day at the NAO I received warm farewells from the entire staff. My audit team was open to accepting any questions I may have on my return to the British Virgin Islands. I saw this as an important opportunity to continue to source new information to assist our office in the performance of our audits.

My advice to anyone who is given this opportunity is to come with an idea of what areas you or your coworkers would like to learn more about and ask as many questions as you can. Come with a curious mind and try to participate in the many training opportunities available at the NAO. There is a wealth of knowledge available and this is a good opportunity offered to help you as well as your office.


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