More companies are using "continuous auditing" techniques, which are designed to use technology to accelerate the internal audit cycle and improve risk and control assurance, according to a new study from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Conducted earlier this year, the survey includes responses from 444 audit managers -- half of whom said that they already use continuous auditing techniques, an increase from 35 percent in 2005. Of the companies without techniques in place, 31 percent said that they have plans in place to begin making changes.

PwC advisory partner Dick Anderson said that the shift is due in part to a dynamic risk environment that increasingly demands timeliness and reliable assurance. He said that continuous auditing also employs non-traditional approaches when it comes to strengthening reporting and communication with senior management and the audit committee.

According to the survey, the percentage of internal audit resources devoted to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance is continuing to taper off as companies take steps to rebalance their SOX compliance with broader risk management activities. Only 33 percent of respondents expect to devote 50 percent or more of their internal audit resources to Year Three Section 404 compliance, compared to 71 percent in Year One, and 45 percent in Year Two.

The survey also found that i nternal audit departments continue to face a shortage of qualified talent. Nearly a third of the respondents reported that they are actively recruiting for auditor positions that had been vacant for more than six months, a figure that remains the same as a year ago.

A full copy of the report, "PricewaterhouseCoopers 2006 State of the Internal Audit Profession Study: Continuous Auditing Gains Momentum," is available at www.pwc.com/internalaudit.

Previously on WebCPA:

Audit Execs: Plenty of Challenges in Internal Audits (June 23, 2006)

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