Generally, the purpose of any type of peer review is to ensure that all relevant users of the information being peer reviewed are given quality, truthful information. From the Office of Inspector General (OIG) perspective, peer reviews exist to determine the adequacy of the OIG’s quality control and to provide reasonable assurance that the OIG is correctly following any applicable standards, policies, and procedures set by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), the generally accepted government auditing standards (GAGAS) and other applicable guidance from various Federal entities. CIGIE promotes the use of peer reviews for all OIGs. There are three types of Inspector General peer reviews: audit, investigations or inspections and evaluations.
What is an Audit Peer Review?
GAGAS requires audit organizations that conduct engagements in accordance with GAGAS to establish and maintain a system of quality control and obtain an external peer review at least once every three years. The system must be designed in a way to provide reasonable assurance that the organization and its personnel comply with professional standards and applicable legal and regulatory requirements. The Inspector General Act of 1978 requires peer reviews of an OIG to be performed by an audit entity of the Federal Government. The reviewing members and members being reviewed need to be independent.
What is an Inspections and Evaluations Peer Review?
The CIGIE external peer review program for Inspection and Evaluation (I&E) is designed to assure Offices of Inspector General and their stakeholders of an I&E organization’s compliance with Blue Book standards. In a similar sense to audit organizations, the Blue Book requires the establishment of a system of quality control that reasonably assures the organization, and its personnel follow the Blue Book standards when conducting I&E.
An external peer review is for I&E organizations that issue at least one report in accordance with Blue Book standards during the 3 years prior to the start of the peer review cycle, while the modified external peer reviews assess whether the internal policies and procedures of an I&E organization that has not published I&E reports during the 3-year period are consistent with Blue Book standards.
What is an Investigative Peer Review?
The purpose of a investigative peer review, known as a Qualitative Assessment Review (QAR), is to ensure that the CIGIE’s Quality Standards for Investigations and Quality Standards for Digital Forensics are followed. In addition, the CIGIE wants to ensure that the law enforncement powers created by Section 6(e) of the Inspector General Act and other authorities are being properly exercised. When conducting a QAR, the review team issues an opinion on the adequacy of a given OIG’s internal safeguards, management procedures, and quality control. As with the other two types of peer reviews, the review team is required to be independent.