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  • Writer's pictureJerry Ipsen, CFE, MBA

The "Right to Audit" Clause for Construction

It’s surprising to find that developers to include project owners exist who either don’t know or don’t understand what the “Right to Audit” clause in a construction contract means. The right to audit clause is a contractual provision that grants one party the authority to conduct audits or examinations of the financial records, documents, and activities of the other party.

In the construction industry, the right to audit clause plays an important role in ensuring financial transparency, compliance with contractual terms, and detecting potential fraud or mismanagement. The “Right to Audit” often equips project owners, contractors, and stakeholders the legal right to review the financial aspects of a construction project and verify that all financial transactions align with the terms of the agreement. 

The right to audit clause is significant in construction contracts for a number of reasons:

  • Financial Transparency: First, the right to audit clause ensures financial transparency, allowing project owners and stakeholders to verify the accuracy and legitimacy of financial transactions related to the project.

  • Contractual Compliance: Second, audits help confirm that both parties adhere to the terms and conditions specified in the construction contract, such as payment schedules, cost reimbursements, and budget allocations.

  • Fraud Detection: Third, audits act as a preventive measure against potential fraud, embezzlement, or financial mismanagement. They help identify discrepancies and irregularities that may indicate fraudulent activities.

  • Cost Control: Fourth, by conducting audits, project owners can ensure that construction costs are reasonable, justifiable, and in line with the agreed-upon budget.

  • Quality Assurance: Fifth, audits not only focus on financial aspects but can also assess the quality and progress of the construction work, ensuring that it meets the required standards and specifications.

  • Dispute Resolution: and sixth, the right to audit clause provides a mechanism for resolving financial disputes between parties, as it allows for a thorough examination of financial records to determine the root cause of the disagreement.

Like many involved in construction finances, audits tell us the use of third-party auditors increases both impartiality and expertise in financial audits. The use of third-party auditors not only helps to build trust between the parties but ensures the audit is conducted objectively.

Jerry Ipsen of Ipsen Due Diligence is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Forensic Accountant (and a member of the ACFE) with an MBA and serves as an independent third-party auditor to project owners, contractors and stakeholders and is one who provides its findings in a court ready report.



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