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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.