Complete reliance on AI for auditing may lead to inaccurate findings: CAG Murmu

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, Girish Chandra Murmu. File.
| Photo Credit: Kamal Narang

Absolute dependence on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for auditing purposes may lead to inaccurate findings, given the current lack of clarity about the challenges it can pose, according to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, Girish Chandra Murmu.

“I think this is a new area, we are not knowing what kind of challenges will come. But, what we can perceive right now, is that if data collection is not very secure, or not very clear or ethically collected, there will be the issues of ethics and privacy. If data is not properly collected, it can be used in a biased manner, because machine can only manipulate and calculate on (the basis of) the available data and from some open source like social media and other kind of available documents,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Murmu said if the data relief upon was not correct, biased or something colorable, the machine would bring out undesirable results. “So, the liability issues would come up, here there is no individual or any authority (to be made accountable). It is a massive that has created something…who will be responsible for that,” he said

“So, if we wholly depend upon the AI, may be our findings may not be as accurate what we are expecting from our findings,” said Mr. Murmu, stating that these issues had to be tackled and it was a challenge for the government, its department and ministries which would be adopting the AI technology, as also for an auditor also.

About the use modern auditing tools, he said the CAG had been using the information technology for decades now. “We have our Centre for Data Management and Analytics. Technology has become an inherent part of our audit now. We will be slowly adopting the Artificial Intelligence wherever possible. We are now doing our capacity building and a certain level of investment is also required in the infrastructure…,” he said.

In this direction, the CAG is implementing the One Audit Office One System, for audit in the IT space, “We would like to conduct a digital audit wherever it is possible, but the question of data standardisation comes in, he said. As, over a period of time, different government entities have gathered and stored data on different IT platforms, it has made the task of data integration and cross-referencing difficult.

The issue of synchronisation will have to be addressed by the government through the IT policies.

As regards the initiatives pertaining to the “Blue Economy” sector, the CAG said through the Supreme Audit Institutions-20 forum, the institution was trying to get an insight, expertise and experience from the other members.

“Although certain countries have done certain mappings very comprehensively, a lot of work is left to be done. Unless and until we get an entire picture of this thing, it is very difficult to assess the risk and methodology as to how to do this kind of accounting,” he said, when asked if there were plans to make an assessment of India’s marine resource for regulated and optimal uses in accordance with the sustainable development goals.

The CAG has already done accounting, in the area of land natural resources, for five types of major minerals and other minor minerals. “Similarly, there are minerals in the ocean bed also…that (accounting for the same) requires a lot of other expertise, you have to consult marine experts and those in the fields of offshore exploration, petroleum and other natural gas…that’s why we are trying to create a centre for excellence for this purpose, within the existing infrastructure…,” said Mr. Murmu.

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