Comparison of ad active data and acl audit command language
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Comparison of AD (Active Data) and ACL (Audit Command Language). January 27, 2011 [email protected] 408-299-6830. Overview. Background URL’s Characteristics Capabilities Summary. Background. ACL (Audit Command Language) used for 10 years.

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Comparison of AD (Active Data) and ACL (Audit Command Language)

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Comparison of ad active data and acl audit command language

Comparison of AD (Active Data) and ACL (Audit Command Language)

January 27, 2011

[email protected]




  • Background

  • URL’s

  • Characteristics

  • Capabilities

  • Summary



  • ACL (Audit Command Language) used for 10 years.

  • AD (Active Data) mentioned at Audit Chiefs as ACL capable for less money .

  • Testing routine.

    • Each of three auditors used it.

    • Performed all tests on continuous auditing

      • Accounts Payable($80M, 240K ea per yr)

      • Workers Comp (smaller than accounts payable)

Url s


  • ACL

  • AD



  • ACL

    • File Size: No known upper limits.

    • Cost: About $2,000 per license. Annual support about $400.

    • Training: Has on line videos and traditional classes.

    • Learning Curve: It takes a significant up front commitment to learn and retain. It needs to be used once per month to keep ACL skills current.

Characteristics continued

Characteristics (continued)

  • AD:

    • File sizes: File size depends on the version of Excel. Excel 2003 is 66,000 records. Excel 2007 and 2010 file size is 1M records. The website mentions ways to use files larger than 1M records, but we did not test it.

    • Cost: About $300 per license and $50 per year support.

    • Training: AD’s website has a series of videos that run 1 to 10 minutes. They are free.

    • Learning Curve: A person should be an intermediate to advanced Excel user. It is easy to learn using the on line videos.



  • Benford’s Law: Both can do.

  • Basic Stats (Minimum, Maximum, Average and standard Deviation): Both can do.

  • Generate Samples: Both can do.

  • Prato: Both can do.

  • Identify Duplicates: Both can do.

Capabilities continued

Capabilities (continued)

  • Comparing lists: Both can do, but may be more work in AD.

  • Extracting Data: ACL can extract data or do analysis on the original data without changing it. AD can not extract data.

  • Parsing Data: ACL is strong at parsing data into fields and uses expert decision making. AD does the simple parse, but not the complex.

Capabilities continued1

Capabilities (continued)

  • Combine similar records from two different fields, such as combining January with February: ACL will let you override certain cell issues such as length of cells do not match.

  • Combine data elements of one file with another, such as insert vendor address into a list of vendors invoices based on vendor number.



  • AD does basically what ACL does.

  • AD cost significantly less than ACL.

  • AD has a file size limit that needs to be considered.

  • ACL has a steep learning curve.

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