Governance codes in public sector legislation in South Africa have contributed
considerably to accelerated growth in public sector internal auditing in national
departments. In consequence, accounting officers (AOs), who are the heads of
department (HoDs) of national departments, have been tasked with establishing
and/or improving the staffing of public sector internal audit functions (IAFs), in
order to enable the IAFs to fulfil the role of public sector internal auditing, as
stipulated by South African legislation and professional standards.
The objectives of the study reported in this article were to determine the staffing situation
in public sector IAFs, and whether there was a statistically significant gap between the
numbers of filled internal auditor posts by staff level, compared to the ideal number
of internal auditors’ posts at these public sector IAFs, as perceived by the chief audit
executives (CAEs). The research methodology followed was a quantitative descriptive
method combined with statistical analysis to analyse and interpret the data. The research
instrument used to obtain the research data was a quantitative research questionnaire
distributed to the CAEs of national departments of the South African government.
The survey revealed that the number of internal auditors’ posts filled (staffing
levels and posts) at public sector IAFs was inadequate, according to CAEs perceptions
regarding the ideal number of posts to be filled. However, when the perceived ideal
staffing complement was compared to the approved staffing complement of public
sector IAFs, no significant difference between the two variables was found. The
article concludes that deficiencies in the current staffing complement of public
sector IAFs can be attributed to a lack of human resources planning, particularly in
respect of succession planning, as shown by the large percentages of vacant internal
auditors’ posts at three of the four internal auditor levels.