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Frequently asked questions

What is the Office of the Public Auditor (OPA)?

Pursuant to its enabling legislation, OPA is authorized to carry out oversight activities designed to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of the programs and operations of the Government of the State of Yap and prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse. OPA is comprised of three divisions, audit, accounting services and investigation.

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 How does OPA contribute to good government?

  • Offer analysis and advice on critical government-wide initiatives, such as computer security, program performance, workforce planning, and financial management.
  • Look independently at problems and recommend solutions.
  • Issue factual reports based on professional auditing, inspection and evaluation, and investigative standards.
  • Investigate fraud, misuse of funds, and other violations of laws and regulations.
  • Provide technical and consultative advice as the government develops new plans.
  • Maintain a hotline for reporting confidential information on fraud and abuse.
  • Create public awareness on fraud, waste, and mismanagement.

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How is the Public Auditor selected?

Under Title 13, Chapter 7, ยง702 of the Yap State Code the Public Auditor is appointed by the Legislature. During the term of the appointment, which cannot exceed six years, the Public Auditor may be removed for cause by a two-thirds vote the Legislature. Vacancies in the office may be filled by temporary appointment of a Public Auditor by the Speaker of the Legislature to serve until the vacancy is filled. Public Auditors are selected without regard to political affiliation. The appointment is based on integrity and ability in:

  • Accounting, auditing, financial analysis*;
  • Law, management analysis, public administration;
  • Investigations

*3.75 Auditors engaged to perform financial audits or attestation engagements should be licensed certified public accountants, persons working for a licensed certified public accounting firm or for a government auditing organization, or licensed accountants in states that have multi-class licensing systems that recognize licensed accountants other than certified public accountants. [Government Auditing Standards, p. 58]

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Who does the Public Auditor report to?

The Public Auditor has dual reporting responsibilities, to the Legislature and the Governor of the State of Yap.

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Is OPA independent?

Yes. By law OPA is independent of administrative control and political influence, and neither an agency or department director or deputy can prevent or prohibit OPA from conducting an audit or investigation. OPA is authorized to:

  • Have direct access to all records and information.
  • Have ready access to agency or department directors and senior management.
  • Conduct such investigations and issue such reports as OPA thinks appropriate.
  • Hire and control it's own staff and resources.

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Who Audits the Auditor?

Government Auditing Standards require an audit organization to undergo a quality control review every three years. OPA was audited in 2012 by a peer review team from the Association of Pacific Island Public Auditors (APIPA). It was the fourth time that a peer review was conducted of OPA.

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How does OPA choose what to audit or investigate?

Some audits are required by law. These include component units which, though legally separate, are financially accountable to the State. Two of the component units we audit are included in the government-wide financial statements of the State. Other audits are requested by the Legislature or based on self-initiated audit proposals. We may initiate an audit if we uncovered significant issues during a previous review, or if we have determined that the program or office is high risk. We evaluate all potential audits based on risk and materiality criteria and prepare an annual audit plan to cover engagement frequency and scheduling based on our available audit staff. During the year we adjust our audit plan. This may result in our adding audits on new issues or requests, or postponing or changing the schedule of audits.

On the investigative side, many OPA inquires start with a referral from an agency or department, or from an audit. Other investigations begin when people call the OPA Hotline, a phone line specially dedicated to help citizens, including government workers, "blow the whistle" on waste, fraud, or abuse. The OPA Hotline can be reached at (691) 350-8310. Tips can also be reported online.

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When does OPA initiate an investigation?

Investigations are only initiated upon the receipt of credible information alleging an act of fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, or corruption within the Public Auditor's jurisdiction. Only the Public Auditor can authorize the initiation of an investigation.

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Are OPA investigations confidential?

Ongoing investigations are exempt from public disclosure. Records prepared and obtained in connection with investigations conducted by OPA are confidential and protected from disclosure. Investigative reports and management advisories are only disclosed to the involved agencies and not to the public unless it is authorized by the Public Auditor.

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Is OPA a law enforcement agency?

No. We are not a law enforcement organization and do not, for example, have the power to arrest. However, any unlawful or criminal conduct discovered during the course of an investigation can be investigated by the Compliance Investigation Division (CID) and referred to the Attorney General for prosecution. CID has authority to conduct both administrative and criminal investigations relating to government resources.

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What is OPA's general jurisdiction?

The Public Auditor has authority to inspect and audit all accounts and financial records of the State Government. This jurisdiction extends to every branch, department, office, political subdivision, board, commission, and agency of the government, and any other entity that receives public funds from the State. If OPA does not have jurisdiction over a matter, we will refer it to the appropriate agency or organization.

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Are audit results made public?

Most are public documents. A broad array of OPA recent reports are available elsewhere on this website. If you are interested in an earlier released report, please contact us and we will try to get a copy for you.

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Do audit and investigations ever turn up anything besides bad news?

Absolutely! Many of our examinations show that programs are working effectively, and many others show that effective programs can be made even more so with moderate changes. Administrators and Managers within the government welcome unbiased opinions to help make good operations even better.

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Does OPA have subpoena power?

Yes, although most often, OPA is able to acquire the same information and/or obtain the same documentation using mechanisms already available to us.

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What professional standards apply to OPA audits, investigations, and other reviews?

Our audits conform to Government Auditing Standards (GAS) issued by the Comptroller General of the United States. These standards, known as the Yellow Book, incorporate the reporting requirements and standards for the audit of financial statements of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Additionally, the standards require that, in all matters relating to audit work, the audit organization and individual auditors should be independent and that individual auditors maintain their professional competence through continuing professional education (CPE).

We perform inspections and evaluations in accordance with the Quality Standards for Inspections and Evaluations issued by the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CGIE). Inspections and evaluations are defined simply as reviews that do not constitute an audit or criminal investigation. We also conduct Investigations following the Quality Standards for Investigations issued by the CGIE, which provides a framework for conducting high quality investigations.

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