Background

Information with integrity (II) faithfully represents the subject matter that it purports to represent. II is important because information/data is relied upon in decision making by individuals, organizations and society as a whole. II in turn depends on the integrity of the people, processes and technologies that create the information/data and the integrity of the environments in which those processes function. 

The quality of information systems environments depend on the effectiveness of IT governance practices and information systems controls, including controls designed to ensure the security, availability, confidentiality, privacy and processing integrity of information.

Information systems assurance (ISA) involves review, evaluation and reporting on the integrity of information systems and the information they produce, focusing on the processes used to develop, operate, change, and control those information systems. ISA services include diagnostic assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of IT governance, assessments of information systems controls, assessments of compliance with management policies, standards and regulatory requirements, assessments of the effectiveness of information systems development, operation and change, and other assessments designed to provide assurance to a variety of stakeholders about the integrity of information systems and the information they produce.

The University of Waterloo is a leading university in Canada and is well known for its information technology related research, teaching and entrepreneurship. The School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) is Canada’s leading academic unit in the accounting and finance fields and has both a Canada-wide and international reputation. The school is a strong supporter of the information integrity and information systems assurance fields, as demonstrated by its leading courses and programs in these areas and related research they have spawned.

Given the importance of information/data and information/data systems in the world today and the severity of the potential economic and social consequences associated with information lacking in integrity and information systems that are unreliable or vulnerable to security breaches, it is imperative that the II and ISA fields be developed. This will be done through research and education by producing and supporting publication of scholarly work in support of II and ISA, such as research articles (peer reviewed and otherwise), textbooks, courses and course materials to support university level instruction in these areas. Also, it is important to create opportunities for exposing business, accounting and financial management students and potential faculty to the field and help them become aware of the problems and opportunities in this area, including beneficial career opportunities for those possessing relevant competencies.

The sponsors and the School of Accounting and Finance at the University of Waterloo seek to contribute to enhancing II and ISA through the execution of research, education and interaction activities described in these terms of reference. The items listed below form the substance and intellectual focus of the centre. All items will be reported on a quarterly basis to the Board of Directors of the centre, as well as promoted visibly to all those potentially interested in II and ISA. Each objective will have a goal established along with measurable and reportable objectives by the director of the centre, and approved by the board, at the beginning of each year. These goals, and progress with actual results, will be monitored and reported on quarterly, at least two weeks prior to each ensuing board meeting.

Purpose

Research

Thought leadership

The centre will organize or participate in providing inter-disciplinary thought leadership on II and ISA through environmental scanning, research, the use of electronic/social media and other activities such as periodic meetings or think-tanks as warranted. Such meetings may involve professional services firms, industry leaders, government, standard setting bodies and leading academics in all related and relevant fields. The format and purpose will be one of open free flowing forum, with discussions centered on important developments in technologies, society and capital markets oversight and governance.

Funding specific research projects

The centre will undertake and sponsor research initiatives related to II and ISA consistent with sound academic practices with other similar knowledge development organizations, technology innovators, professional groups, industry groups, standard setting bodies and firms with an interest in II and ISA.

Sponsoring specific research symposium

One of the primary activities of the centre will be to sponsor a symposium every two years. The first such symposium was held in 1999. The focus of the symposium will be to transfer knowledge and encourage interaction by presenting a combination of academic and practitioner views on current issues related to II and ISA. The gathering will focus on bringing together leading practitioners and academics to present, debate and discuss current II and ISA issues. The presentations will address practice, research, education topics and emerging technologies and their new realities. The centre will attempt to have selected research papers from the symposium published in academic journals, such as the International Journal of Accounting Information Systems. All other presentations will be summarized in CPA Canada’s and/or ISACA’s publications as well as being posted to the centre’s website.

Education and knowledge transfer

Development of courses, cases and other teaching material

With a need for academics to deliver the best qualified and best prepared individuals into practice, courses, cases and other teaching material dealing with II and ISA can fill an important education need. The centre, through its activities, website, and other communication channels will promote open and transparent knowledge exchange mechanisms/repositories and access to such materials. The website will provide access to such materials as they become available.

Sharing material

The centre will actively encourage the development, access to and exchange of material, knowledge transfer and teaching methodologies among educators in the II and ISA fields. The centre will attempt to make as much material as possible available for the general public through the use of the centre’s website.

Textbooks and any related works produced under centre sponsorship such as “Computer Control and Audit Guide” (1998 – 2015) will continue to be supported by and credited to the University of Waterloo Centre for Information Integrity and Information Systems Assurance (UW CISA).

Interaction 

Alliances and relationships

As part of its mission to interact with academe and practice and to develop/access/transfer knowledge, the centre seeks to create and sustain relations with academic units with similar objectives, professional associations, industry/technology associations and standard setting bodies with an interest in II and ISA. Continuous outreach to units with similar goals and objectives will be undertaken to develop an international network for mutual support.

Disseminating best practices

The centre will sponsor projects/events/presentations devoted to developing, documenting and disseminating best practices in various areas relevant to II and ISA. The primary way this data will be collected is through support of research in the area, participating in standard setting and advisory committees, hosting think-tank sessions and workshops, and the biennial symposium. Such work must be of use to both practitioners and academics.

Electronic communication

The centre, using its current web site, and other relevant electronic tools, will continuously promote all current, future and past activities of the centre. As open standard materials are collected and/or developed, they will be made available on the site as well. The centre will take steps to have the web site linked with other organizations around the globe that have II and ISA as a common goal, including the centre’s sponsors.