Discussant's Response to
An Investigation of a Measurement Based Approach to the Evaluation of Audit Evidence
Bart H. Ward
The University of Oklahoma
The paper by Mock and Wright contains the kernel of a good idea which if more rigorously defined and/or redirected might enhance the auditor's ability to anticipate and control potential threats to the validity of evidential inferences in auditing. However, the paper may implicitly lead some readers to over value the benefits from attempting to "objectively measure" the validity and reliability of audit procedures.
For the most part I will discuss limitations associated with the scope, findings, and conclusion of this paper. Doing so will provide the opportunity to explore alternative findings and conclusions that might result from elimination or relaxation
of limitations or oversimplifications in the Mock and Wright study. My objective
in exploring limitations and simplifications are two. One of my objectives is to clarify the overall performance evaluation criteria for an audit. The other objective
is to broadly explore the fundamental heirarchy of inference and decision in auditing. This hierarchy provides a framework for relating evidential matter (through inductive inference) to audit conclusions, to the overall goals of an audit and to the performance of a professional firm.
To accomplish these objectives, I will first set out the purpose and method of the Mock and Wright study as I understand them. I will then organize my comments
Concerning Purpose and Method
This study proposes an investigation of a measurement-based approach to the evaluation of audit evidence. This investigation is accomplished by:
1) Establishing a framework for the audit process.
2) Identifying a role for evidence evaluation within that framework.
3) Assessing the ability of existing approaches to perform the evidence evaluation role required by that framework.
4) Outlining an alternative evidence evaluation scheme whose performance in the required evidential evaluation rule dominates the performance of existing approaches with regard to the scientific criteria of rigor and precision.
5) Illustrating (synthetically) the use of this alternative (measurement based) approach.