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Global Institute of Internal AuditorsBreadcrumb SeparatorStandards and GuidanceBreadcrumb SeparatorGuidance TopicsBreadcrumb SeparatorIndependence and Objectivity

Independence & Objectivity Independence & Objectivity

IIA Guidance

1100 - Independence and Objectivity
The internal audit activity must be independent, and internal auditors must be objective in performing their work.

Interpretation

Independence is the freedom from conditions that threaten the ability of the internal audit activity to carry out internal audit responsibilities in an unbiased manner. To achieve the degree of independence necessary to effectively carry out the responsibilities of the internal audit activity, the chief audit executive has direct and unrestricted access to senior management and the board. This can be achieved through a dual-reporting relationship. Threats to independence must be managed at the individual auditor, engagement, functional, and organizational levels.

Objectivity is an unbiased mental attitude that allows internal auditors to perform engagements in such a manner that they believe in their work product and that no quality compromises are made. Objectivity requires that internal auditors do not subordinate their judgment on audit matters to others. Threats to objectivity must be managed at the individual auditor, engagement, functional, and organizational levels.

1110 - Organizational Independence (Standard)
The chief audit executive must report to a level within the organization that allows the internal audit activity to fulfill its responsibilities. The chief audit executive must confirm to the board, at least annually, the organizational independence of the internal audit activity.

Interpretation

Organizational independence is effectively achieved when the chief audit executive reports functionally to the board. Examples of functional reporting to the board involve the board:

  • Approving the internal audit charter;
  • Approving the risk based internal audit plan;
  • Approving the internal audit budget and resource plan;
  • Receiving communications from the chief audit executive on the internal audit activity’s performance relative to its plan and other matters;
  • Approving decisions regarding the appointment and removal of the chief audit executive;
  • Approving the remuneration of the chief audit executive; and
  • Making appropriate inquiries of management and the chief audit executive to determine whether there are inappropriate scope or resource limitations.

1110.A1 - The internal audit activity must be free from interference in determining the scope of internal auditing, performing work, and communicating results.

PA 1110-1: Organizational Independence (January 2009)

1111 – Direct Interaction with the Board
The chief audit executive must communicate and interact directly with the board.

1120 - Individual Objectivity (Standard)
Internal auditors must have an impartial, unbiased attitude and avoid any conflict of interest.

Interpretation

Conflict of interest is a situation in which an internal auditor, who is in a position of trust, has a competing professional or personal interest. Such competing interests can make it difficult to fulfill his or her duties impartially. A conflict of interest exists even if no unethical or improper act results. A conflict of interest can create an appearance of impropriety that can undermine confidence in the internal auditor, the internal audit activity, and the profession. A conflict of interest could impair an individual's ability to perform his or her duties and responsibilities objectively.

PA 1120-1: Individual Objectivity (January 2009)

1130 - Impairment to Independence or Objectivity (Standard)
If independence or objectivity is impaired in fact or appearance, the details of the impairment must be disclosed to appropriate parties. The nature of the disclosure will depend upon the impairment.

Interpretation

Impairment of organizational independence and individual objectivity may include, but is not limited to, personal conflict of interest, scope limitations, restrictions on access to records, personnel, and properties, and resource limitations, such as funding.

The determination of appropriate parties to which the details of an impairment to independence or objectivity must be disclosed is dependent upon the expectations of the internal audit activity's and the chief audit executive's responsibilities to senior management and the board as described in the internal audit charter, as well as the nature of the impairment.

1130.A1 - Internal auditors must refrain from assessing specific operations for which they were previously responsible. Objectivity is presumed  to be impaired if an internal auditor provides assurance services for an activity for which the internal auditor had responsibility within the previous year.

1130.A2 - Assurance engagements for functions over which the chief audit executive has responsibility must be overseen by a party outside the internal audit activity.

1130.C1 - Internal auditors may provide consulting services relating to operations for which they had previous responsibilities. 

1130.C2 - If internal auditors have potential impairments to independence or objectivity relating to proposed consulting services, disclosure must be made to the engagement client prior to accepting the engagement.  

Practice Advisories

PA#           ​ ​Title ​Date
1130-1​ Impairment to Independence or Objectivity​ January 2009​
1130.A1-1​ Assessing Operations for Which Internal Auditors Were Previously Responsible​ January 2009​
1130.A2-1​ Internal Audit’s Responsibility for Other (Non-audit) Functions​ January 2009
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