To present a progress report of internal audit work for 2016/17.
The Committee considered the Internal Audit Progress Report, which presented Members with progress in internal audit work for 2016/17. The Head of the Internal Audit Shared Service (HIASS) presented the report and responded to Members’ questions on this.
Regarding overall delivery against the Internal Audit Plan it was noted that the number of days used to 31st December 2016 had, in some areas, exceeded the number of planned days. The HIASS explained the reasons for this and stated that he would be speaking with the s151 Officer at year end and would report back to the Committee. Whilst some areas had almost reached their number of planned days there were no major concerns with this and the HIASS did not envisage that the number of overall days would exceed the number of forecasted days.
Under Performance Indicators, the 59% Service Productivity figure was starting to show signs of recovery after the arrival of three new auditors in the first quarter, along with a further auditor towards the end of Quarter 2. Expectation was that productivity would continue to increase as the auditors became more familiar with Partner and Service requirements. In relation to Planned Follow Ups at Appendix 3 to the report, there were no exceptions to report.
A discussion ensued on Planned Follow Ups. Mr Jones asked whether there was enough emphasis by senior management to close down outstanding actions on recommendations early on. The HIASS stated that some areas did take longer than others and that there was not always a quick fix to an issue. He added that it was reasonable to say that when second and third follow up visits were required this took up additional resource and increased number of days. Mr Jones commented that there should not be third follow ups as this drove waste into the system and queried whether the scope of some audits should be changed, particularly given that the number of follow ups had increased significantly over the previous year. It was queried whether members of the Senior Management Team (SMT) at director level, and/or Portfolio Holders, should become involved in the process, particularly where outstanding actions were not being dealt with in a timely manner, resulting in additional Follow Ups
Mr Percival commented that Grant Thornton would expect Internal Audit to carry out their audit work, set recommendations and agree implementation dates with relevant service Officers for completion of required actions and to undertake required follow up on these. He added that if recommendations were not being implemented within agreed timeframes then there should be a clear escalation route, which would involve more senior managers. There should be a clear explanation from Officers as to why actions were not progressing, to ascertain whether the particular circumstances involved warranted any delays. If circumstances had changed this should equally be made clear and looked into, otherwise this would lead to a culture of non-compliance.
Members queried how the position would be reported back on and whether a formal request in this regard needed to be made to the Senior Management Team (SMT). As no members of SMT were present to respond in this regard Officers agreed to look into the position and report back on this at the next meeting. The HIASS confirmed that he did not have any strong views against the proposal for senior management involvement however he added that the Corporate Management Team (Heads of Service) would need to be engaged in any agreed process to ensure that there was a clear escalation route and engagement throughout.
subject to the required Officer action detailed in the preamble above in relation to Planned Follow Ups, the report be noted.