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Audit – the Spectrum standard

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You should have a policy covering audits. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, in deciding your policy you will most likely need to consider these questions:

  • How will you make your records as tamper-proof as possible?
  • How often will you carry out routine audits on different parts of your collection and information systems?
  • What will be the aims and scope of these audits?
  • Do any parts of your collections or systems need more frequent or more rigorous audits?
  • What sampling methods will be used?
  • What circumstances will trigger additional audits (eg suspected theft or the return of objects to storage after a major exhibition)?
  • Who will carry out audits and how?
  • Who is responsible for signing off audit findings and authorising any remedial action?

You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when managing and documenting audits. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, but however you do it, your own procedure should meet the following minimum requirements:

Minimum requirement Why this is important
You carry out and document regular audits of your collection information. You can have confidence in your collection management systems and procedures.

A dishonest insider cannot easily delete or falsify object records.

You carry out and document regular location audits of the objects in your care. You can be sure your basic inventory information is up-to-date and accurate.

You can physically verify that your objects are all where they should be.

Audits for security and accountability purposes are based on tamper-proof records and do not rely on individuals signing off their own work. Object lists generated for audits cannot be ‘edited’ by someone trying to cover their tracks.

There are no conflicts of interest when carrying out audits.

Audit findings are promptly reported in line with your policy, and timely remedial action taken as required. Your governing body and management can act if problems are uncovered by audits.

Your procedures and the quality of your collection information can be improved.

Date created: 2017

Publisher: Collections Trust