Chief audit executives and internal audit directors and managers are noticing improvements in staffing and budgets this year after a brutal 2009, according to a new survey.

The survey by the Institute of Internal Auditors reinforced some recent signs of recovery, including the Dow surpassing the 11,000 mark and strong quarterly earnings at some prominent retail and technology companies. The survey by the IIA’s new Audit Executive Center found that internal audit budgets and staffing levels are beginning to stabilize after a difficult year in 2009. Although 9 percent of all 402 participants in the March 2010 survey indicated that their staffing levels decreased from 2009 to 2010, this percentage is still lower than the 12 percent who projected staff reductions in October 2009, and the 19 percent of respondents to the March 2010 survey who stated that staffing levels decreased from 2008 and 2009.

In addition, 73 percent of the survey participants in March indicated that their staffing levels stayed the same, while 18 percent stated that their staffing levels actually increased from 2009 to 2010.

In terms of budget decreases, 45 percent of the survey respondents indicated that internal audit budgets stayed the same from 2009 to 2010, only one point higher than the percent of internal audit budgets that stayed the same in 2009 from 2008. The good news is found in the percentage of audit budgets that increased compared to those that decreased. According to survey results, 27 percent of respondents stated that their budgets increased from 2008 to 2009, while 30 percent stated that their budgets increased from 2009 to 2010.

The percentage of budget decreases also has abated, reinforcing the stabilization of internal audit budgets: 29 percent of all respondents stated that their budgets decreased from 2008 to 2009 compared to 25 percent who stated that budgets have decreased since last year.

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