Comparing Alteryx and ACL: How Alteryx Stacks up for Government OIGs and Auditors

From IC Insider Alteryx

By Andy MacIsaac, Director, Solutions Marketing, Public Sector

Alteryx and Audit Command Language (ACL)* are both data analysis software tools used by organizations and businesses to examine, analyze, and report on data. Alteryx is a comprehensive data analytics platform that provides a wide range of capabilities for data preparation, blending, and analysis.

ACL is a proprietary software that specializes in data audit and analysis, providing powerful query and analysis tools, along with the ability to quickly identify anomalies and trends in data.

Both tools are highly effective for data analysis, but Alteryx has a broader range of features, including data visualization, predictive analytics, and workflow automation, that make it the preferred choice for more complex data analysis tasks.

With the availability of higher levels of digital tools, accountants and auditors need to be more than well-versed in numbers, they need to know how to leverage data and analytics.

With the sheer volume of data the scaled use of analytics is the only way these professionals can quickly identify outliers, find discrepancies and investigate causes. These same accountants and auditors however are not data scientists, and they will need tools that can be seamlessly ingested into their investigations.

Alteryx vs ACL

Alteryx is a powerful data analytics platform that simplifies the data transformation, blending, and analysis process. It is a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to quickly build and deploy sophisticated analytics models. It also features advanced analytics, data visualization, and predictive analytics capabilities.

In comparison, Audit Command Language (ACL) is a scripting language designed to automate the auditing and analysis of data. It is used by auditors to quickly extract, analyze, and report on large amounts of data. ACL is a complex language that requires specialized training and experience to use effectively.


In terms of usability, Alteryx is much easier to use than ACL. Alteryx requires minimal training, as it is based on a drag-and-drop interface that anyone can use. It also offers a wide range of features and capabilities that allow users to quickly build and deploy sophisticated analytics models.

Gartner describes Alteryx as a powerful and flexible data analytics platform that offers users the ability to access, prepare, blend, and analyze data from multiple sources without needing specialized coding or scripting skills. ACL, in contrast, is a scripting language that is used mainly by auditors to analyze large volumes of data. It is a powerful tool with many features but requires specialized training and experience to use effectively, making it less accessible to users.

Ready for the Enterprise

Alteryx is an enterprise audit automation platform that automates the entire auditing process from data extraction to reporting. It is designed to help auditors quickly and easily analyze large amounts of data and present results in a clear and intuitive visual format.

Alteryx also provides automated audit tracking, which allows auditors to easily track their progress, identify potential issues, and follow up on any discrepancies. Alteryx offers a wide range of analytics and reporting capabilities, enabling auditors to identify areas of risk quickly and easily and improve internal controls.

Overall, Alteryx offers a comprehensive and automated approach to auditing compared to Audit Command Language. It is more efficient, easier to use, and provides a more comprehensive suite of tools and analytics.

OIG Use Cases with Alteryx

Alteryx is already making a splash in many Government OIGs at both the Federal and State level.


The Amtrak OIG currently uses Alteryx for many analytics needs, performing a vast array of auditing functions and outcomes. Alteryx is used daily to ingest data from several disparate data sources, cleanse and blend the data and publish it in 5 different formats.

Amtrak OIG uses Alteryx to abstract text from PDF files and manipulate and restructure the data in a readable format for OIG investigators. Another use case is using Alteryx to predict and identify fraud, waste, and abuse.

Amtrak OIG receives a 37,000-page Verizon PDF phone bill each month. They use Alteryx to parse that PDF and extract the data to put it into a structured and reportable format for OIG investigators. Amtrak also uses Alteryx while taking in passenger claims and determining the status of where passenger compensation is appropriate. Prepping and cleansing this data is made easy with Alteryx, as is checking for outliers of false or fraudulent claims.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

The SEC OIG manages massive volumes of legal discovery data including emails, scans, unstructured data, and an assortment of file types and system outputs. The SEC IT team was tasked by the OIG with finding a better way to process, clean and do search and discovery on data. Beyond data blending, the OIG is looking to perform Natural Language Processing (NLP) and deeper analysis of many data sets received. Alteryx provides a no-code pathway for the team and offers a code-friendly environment for other areas of OIG where Python is used.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

The VA OIG needed a more agile method for staying on top of budding problems facing Veterans trying to claim care and benefits. Using Alteryx the team learned quickly how to help generate the vast number of analytic reports they produce weekly, allow proactive trending analysis, and help prioritize tasks. The Alteryx platform bridges the inherent gap between auditors and the data scientist community, building trust between these two persona groups.

There are 30,000 VHA hotline and GAO reports per year, and 1,200 auditors for 700,000 Active Directory users. The data produced from this enormous environment is disparate, incomplete, complex, and in different formats.

Alteryx helped migrate the VA’s previous inefficient, ad hoc analytic system to a standardized process with reusable and sharable workflows. As the VA expands further with Alteryx, outcomes will include better hospital bed utilization, lower wait times, faster compensations, medical equipment uptime, and analysis of opioid addiction, to name a few.

State of Ohio

While many organizations focus on identifying and fighting fraud after the fact, there are some government organizations like the State of Ohio that are building analytic capacity to improve business processes to better identify fraud before it occurs. Analytics automation through Alteryx matured the state’s dashboarding and predictive capability. This increased analytic maturity enabled the state to better predict fraudulent unemployment insurance claims based on IP addresses, bank accounts, and similar emails.

Alteryx – A Strong Choice for Public Sector OIGs

Overall, Alteryx is a powerful and comprehensive data analytics platform that is well-suited for use in the public sector. It is easy to use, provides a wide range of features, and is designed to automate the entire auditing process from data extraction to reporting.

Alteryx is already making a significant impact in government organizations. With its ability to quickly and accurately analyze large amounts of data, Alteryx is the preferred choice for complex data analysis tasks in the public sector.

To read more about how Alteryx can empower your Audit Analytics, Download our ebook on 5 Audit Use Cases.


*Audit Command Language is a registered trademark of Galvanize

About Alteryx, Inc.

Revolutionizing business through data science and analytics, Alteryx offers an end-to-end analytics platform that empowers data analysts and scientists alike to break data barriers, deliver insights, and experience the thrill of getting to the answer faster. Organizations all over the world rely on Alteryx daily to deliver actionable insights. For more information, visit

Alteryx is a registered trademark of Alteryx, Inc.

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