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Controlling Internal Controls


Philip J. Candreva is a lecturer in financial management at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). He has broad experience in defense financial management, is a distinguished graduate of NPS, and is now a doctoral student. His research interests are public management and budgeting. His work has appeared in the International Public Management Review, Public Budgeting and Finance, and Armed Forces & Society. E-mail:


Two recent examinations of management practices in three federal departments provide contemporary evidence of the need to incorporate procedures like those of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the public sector. Although each department established what appeared to be well-designed internal controls, all lacked sufficient monitoring and assessment of the efficacy of those controls. By requiring senior management to attest to the strength of their control mechanisms, as required by the newly revised OMB Circular A-123, the quality of this monitoring should improve. Findings from a recent study of private-sector implementation of these reforms are described, along with suggestions for public administration research and practice at all levels of government.