Internal Control System

Last Updated: 13 Apr 2020
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The two primary goals of an internal control system are to safeguard assets and manage resources. This action by the organization, reasonably ensure that their specific goals and objectives will be met within compliance. This system consist of policies, measures and procedures designed to assist management with protecting the organization against waste, preventing and detecting fraud, inconsistencies, inadequacy, ineffectiveness, reliable and accurate accounting, evaluating performance and protecting both its tangible and intangible resources.

It helps to minimize risks and they are an integral part of an organization’s financial and business policies. Internal controls are simply just good business practices. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted on July 30, 2002. The bill was introduced and passed as a result of the then recent corporate accounting scandals by companies such as Enron, Tyco and Worldcomm, just to name a few. These very public scandals rocked the nation; since, they cost investors billions of dollars and challenged the faith that people once had in the America’s stock markets.

This new Act helped to rebuild faith in a once loosely regulated system and repair some of the damage done by such greed and deceit. Some argue that the bill has reduced America's international competitive edge against overseas financial service providers (Wikipedia); but the bill was put in place to protect investors, shareholders and the general public alike by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures made pursuant to the securities laws (SOX-online. com).

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The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB, is the agency created to oversee the accounting firms that act as auditors for corporate companies. The consequences for non-compliance are fines, imprisonment, or both. If a company announces deficiencies in its internal controls, the stock of that organization would most likely fall due to the public knowledge and experience with this type of thing before the Sarbanes- Oxley bill was introduced. Investors’ assurance in the safety of their stock will be negatively impacted.

The negative impact can cause panic by investors, resulting in the selling of that investors’ share of stock. But if the company has a strong positive reputation and releases this information voluntarily then the company may save face and retain some of their shareholders trust and some shareholders may remain loyal by staying positive. One limitation of the internal control system is employing a staff large enough to accommodate the many segregated duties of one that is well organized and thought out.

The mishandling of finances, under-protection of assets, human error, human deceit, illegal dealings, erroneous information, the size of the business, staff carelessness, poor judgment or lack of knowledge, collusion by staff, overrides by management for personal gain or other motives and controls failing to capture or flag odd transactions, are all limitations in an organization’s control system (Financial Accountability Handbook, Jan. 2010). Controls that are applicable for larger companies, are not applicable in small businesses.

For example, a fewer number people perform the accounting practices in small companies since they do not have the resources or the staff to accommodate segregated duties. These persons may have dual responsibility of operation and custody. The isolation of duties may be missing or severely limited. Below is a more detail description of some of these limitations. 1. Judgment: The effectiveness of controls will be limited by decisions made with human judgment under pressure to conduct business based on certain information or a lack there of. . Breakdowns: Even well designed internal controls can break down. Employees sometimes misunderstand instructions or simply make mistakes. Errors may also result from new technology and the complexity of computerized information systems. 3. Management Override: High level personnel may override prescribed policies and procedures for personal gain or advantage; thus, should not be confused with management intervention, which justifies management actions to depart from prescribed policies and procedures for legitimate purposes.

Collusion: Control systems can be circumvented by employee collusion. Individuals acting collectively can alter financial data or other management information in a manner that cannot be identified by control systems. The internal control system is designed differently within every company depending on its own needs. This allows an organization to put in place ethnical methods and procedures that best suit its practices.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act being implemented reassures stockholders and the public that they can possibly, safely invest again with a less likelihood that similar future occurrences of corporate scandals will occur. There is no sure way to have a air-tight internal control system but if a company stays vigilant about staying within compliance, tying up loophole when discovered and prosecuting when necessary; the problem of mishandled finances may slowly become a thing of the past. Internal Control Principles: . The first internal control principal is an applied establishment of responsibility by one individual. 2. The next principal is the segregation of duties where different individuals have a specific duty. 3. The following principle is the physical, mechanical, and electronic controls. This is where there are individuals, machines and computers working together. 4. The last internal control principal is independent internal verification that employs different departments to specific responsibilities.

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Internal Control System. (2017, May 07). Retrieved from

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