What is the audit instrument?

Standard 115.401(d) requires DOJ to “develop and issue an audit instrument that will provide guidance on the conduct of and contents of the audit.” To fulfill this requirement, DOJ developed an audit instrument for each set of PREA Standards: prisons and jails, lockups, community confinement facilities, and juvenile facilities. Each instrument includes a series of guiding documents and tools that auditors are required to use when conducting an audit. The audit instrument is comprised of two components core components and evidence collection components.

The audit instrument developed by DOJ is the only audit instrument auditors are authorized to use to conduct PREA audits. Correctional agencies and/or facilities may elect to use third-party software to assist with audit planning and preparation (e.g., document retention and organization); however, such software may not be used by auditors to replace or supersede the audit instrument developed by DOJ. If such software is used, auditors are still responsible for conducting high quality, objective, comprehensive, and reliable audits using DOJ-approved auditing materials and ensuring they adhere to the documentation retention requirement. DOJ does not endorse any third-party PREA auditing assistance software.

As of June 30, 2022, all auditors are required to use the PREA Online Audit System (OAS) for conducting and reporting PREA audits. For more information, please visit the Online Audit System page.

The OAS agency audit

The PREA Online Audit System (OAS) allows users to complete facility or agency audits. The agency audit focuses on the audit of certain PREA Standards and provisions that either impose a burden solely on the confinement agency or for which the responsibility may be shared by the agency and its operated facilities. The results of an agency audit will be valid only for one year following the completion of the agency audit, and any facility audits initiated during that audit will benefit from the agency-level findings. If the agency audit becomes out of date, those Standards that are part of the agency audit will automatically become the responsibility of each facility auditor.  

Facility audits within that agency will not include a re-audit of those Standards and provisions that cover operations conducted solely by the agency or central office. However, certain Standards or provisions that are part of the agency audit may be re-audited at the facility level, if the facility has some responsibility separate from the agency's responsibility for those Standards or provisions. For example, if an agency has a collective bargaining agreement governed by Standard 115.66, but facilities within that agency have their own collective bargaining agreements with their staff, those facility agreements will have to be audited during the facility audit. If there are no separate facility agreements (i.e., the facility has no shared responsibility for the collective bargaining agreements), as determined by the facility auditor, then that Standard need not be audited at the facility level.

The OAS allows for the seamless sharing of specific information across audits within an agency, and allows an agency audit to suffice where only agency operations are implicated — thus creating tremendous efficiencies for auditors and agency- and facility-based staff who are responsible for preparing for an audit.

Use of the agency audit feature in the OAS also allows agencies to share extensive information prior to facility audits, without having to send that information separately to each facility. Once agency-level information is completed in the OAS, that information is available to each facility associated with the agency. When facility-based audit preparation begins, the facility PREA Coordinator or PREA Compliance Manager can pull relevant agency policies and information into the Pre-Audit Questionnaire for their facility audit. This reduces the burden on the facility and ensures that agency-level information is consistent across all facilities that benefit from the agency audit in a given year.  

Agency audit standards 

The agency audit is an audit of a limited number of PREA Standards that regulate operations and behaviors that take place solely at the agency or central office level, or that are a shared responsibility between the agency and its operated facilities. These Standards are:

  • 115.11(b) PREA Coordinator
  • 115.12 Contracting with other entities for the confinement of inmates
  • 115.17 Hiring and promotion decisions
  • 115.66 Preservation of ability to protect inmates from contact with abusers
  • 115.87 Data collection
  • 115.88 Data review for corrective action
  • 115.89 Data storage, publication, destruction
  • 115.401(a) and (b) Frequency and scope of audits
  • 115.403(f) Audit content and findings