resolve these differences and raise trust in government efforts to protect privacy.

Collateral Benefits of Oversight

Ensuring compliance with policy is not the only benefit afforded by oversight. Indeed, administrators of government agencies face enormous challenges, not only from external pressures based on public concern over privacy, but also from internal struggles about how to motivate high performance while adhering to legal requirements and staying within budget.

Management strategies for achieving excellence in government agencies, corporations, and universities include many forms of internal review, measurement, and evaluation and a variety of strategies for external review. External reviews from consultants, advisory boards, or boards of visitors are designed to bring fresh perspectives that promote continuous improvement, while generating good will and respect from external stakeholders.

A well-designed oversight process can support the goal of continuous improvement and guide administrators in making organizational change, while raising public trust for an organization. Although many forms of oversight have been applied in corporate settings, the main approach is the board of directors. Such boards may be a weak form of oversight as they often mix internal with external participants who are less than independent. A stronger form of independent oversight and advice may come from external consultants or review panels that are convened for specific decisions or projects, but even stronger forms are possible.

For example, in the United States, corporate boards of directors are required to include an audit committee that is responsible for monitoring the external financial reporting process and related risks. An important role of the audit committee is to commission an external audit from an independent accounting firm, which is required annually for every publicly traded U.S. corporation by the SEC. These external audits are major events that provide independent oversight for financial matters with public reports to the SEC that become available to investors. In response to recent failures of independent oversight such as in the Enron and Worldcom bankruptcies, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002) has substantially strengthened the rules.20


J.C Thibodeau and D. Freier, Auditing After Sarbanes-Oxley, McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York, N.Y., 2006.

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