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An internal audit is a process of gathering evidence to determine the degree to which an organization meets a certain set of requirements (e.g. ISO/IEC 17025 or 17020 standards, the supplemental requirements of an accrediting body, or your own standard operating procedures). This type of audit is for internal purposes and is a self-declaration that audit criteria are met. Annual internal audits are required for accreditation to either of the above-referenced standards, and they’re a vital tool in implementing a quality management system.

Like a gap analysis, the audit includes a thorough review of policies and procedures to determine compliance with specific requirements, but it also includes questioning employees and reviewing records of activities performed. Auditors check to see if the policies and procedures are understood by staff members and have been implemented as intended.

Many forensic laboratories have seen the benefit to outsourcing their internal audits. Audit functions can be completed by outsourced staff under the supervision of someone in your agency such as the quality manager. In this manner, your agency gets the benefit of outsourcing the internal audit but maintains control of the process. Any findings of nonconformance, observations, or recommendations are documented and presented to your agency, but the final decision of nonconformance, for example, is made by you.
  • Objectivity and Independence – an outsourced team or individual is often seen as more independent than internal employees.
  • Additional expertise – your agency has access to additional subject matter specialists when needed.
  • Fresh perspective – outside auditors can often see things that are not obvious to internal employees because they don’t “live with it” on a daily basis.
  • Less disruption to workflow – existing employees are not pulled away from their core work duties to conduct the audit.
  • Improved quality – many agencies don’t have access to individuals with the experience and training necessary to perform internal audits. If that’s the case, your agency won’t reap the full benefit of the audit process.  
  • Less drama – let’s face it, few employees enjoy having their work scrutinized even when they know that audits are used to improve processes, not people. Outsourcing your internal audit can help your agency avoid this potential issue.
  • Your organization is not accredited, and, although you’ve prepared for the accreditation assessment, you’d feel better about having someone external to your agency first perform an audit to ensure that nothing big was overlooked.
  • Your organization has no employees that have been trained to conduct internal audits, or you’re not certain that their training was effective.
  • You have a new quality manager with little to no experience who could benefit from assisting outside auditors and learning first-hand how audits should be performed.
When internal audits are done properly, the results can be used to make big improvements to the quality of forensic work. The focus should always be on improvement. Call RS&A. We can help you establish a program for internal audits or provide assistance for an existing program.
To discuss RS&A Quality Management Services, please contact Carmen McIntire, D-ABFT-FA
at 1-866-832-6772 or email