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This question is a bit confusing:

Which of the following activities most likely would detect whether payroll data were altered during processing?

A. Moniter authorized distribution of data control sheets
B. use test data to verify the performance of edit routines
C. Examine source documents for approval by supervisors
D. Segregate duties between approval of hardware and software specifications.

Answer: B

This sounds like it would only test if the test data is altered... not the previous actual data. I suppose it's the only answer that tests the data entry clerk's performance... does anyone have a better explanation?

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Replies to This Discussion


They are testing controls here, not testing the actual data.  They want to be sure the payroll processing systems are working correctly.  That is why they input test data to see if what they get from the output is what they expect.  

You are correct that this is not telling them if changes were made to the actual data, but it is telling them if the systems are processing correctly.  If they are, they can be satisfied the controls are working as expected and the payroll output should be correct.

The other potential answers do not address whether data is altered during system processing.  They might be good controls, but are not testing for what this question is asking.

Authorized distribution of control sheets makes sure only the right people have access to that data, but it's not related to processing the data.

Source document approvals should be there, but again, this is about authorization, not accuracy of processing.

Finally, segregation of duties between approval of hardware and software specs is something related to general IT controls, not application specific to the payroll process.

Hope that helps.


Pederson CPA Review

Thanks, Rob. I now understand why B is most correct, however I still feel it's a poorly worded question. It should probably say something like "whether payroll data MAY have been altered"



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