The Committee received the Internal Audit progress report which presented Members with progress on Internal Audit work for 2017/18. The Worcestershire Internal Audit Shared Services (WIASS) Manager presented the report and responded to Members’ questions.
Members noted that all of the audit reports issued/completed since the previous update report had resulted in assurance levels of moderate or above. A number of other audits were currently ongoing, the assurance levels for which would be reported on at the next meeting. There were a number of medium priority recommendations arising from the 2017/18 audits, for which details of the Management Responses and agreed Action Plans were set out in the report. There were no high recommendations arising.
Following concerns previously raised by the Committee in relation to the lengthy/ongoing planned follows ups for the CCTV, Consultancy and Agency and Allotments audits, the relevant Heads of Service were in attendance and advised Members on the respective positions with these.
Officers explained the CCTV access rights issue and the required Team Leader authorisation which led to delays in the production of some data files. Members were advised that the issue could not be resolved at present, and that to mitigate any risk all staff within the department had received data protection training. Officers stated that they could look at the staffing issue as part of the Council’s commercialisation and income generation agenda. In light of the cost implications associated with available software to address the issue, Officers agreed to speak with the internal auditors to see whether any paper copy alternatives could be introduced, bearing in mind any associated risk factors. Officers agreed to report back on the position with this at the next meeting.
Regarding Consultancy and Agency, Members were provided with an update on the ongoing review of the current Matrix system (used for procuring consultancy and agency staff), and the contract for this. The internal review included involvement from Human Resources, Finance and Procurement Officers. The existing contract with Matrix was due to expire in December 2017. The option of extending the contract for a further six months in order to conclude the internal review and allow time to undertake any procurement exercise that might be required was being looked into. Whilst the review was ongoing it was recognised that the Matrix contract was in place and working, and that as such that any risk to the authority was low.
In relation to Allotments, Officers advised that the majority of the required actions had now been completed. The only outstanding area related to a change in water charges, with the Council aiming to fully cover its water costs and which it was hoped would be concluded within the next couple of months.
Officers advised that any significant delays in agreed follow up actions would, in future, be taken to the Senior Management Team to ensure that actions were being carried out as soon as possible, or that where other factors impacted on this the position be reviewed as early as possible to agree any alterative course of action that might be needed. The WIASS Manager confirmed that Internal Audit appreciated that the position in relation to recommendations and agreed actions could change following audits, and in between planned follow ups. This meant that some recommendations could become surplus to requirements, or that adjustments to agreed actions might be needed. In such circumstances if Officers and Internal Audit could come up with solutions then they would do so. Mr Jones stated that such control processes should be in place, and that any planned follow ups that could be avoided should be.
The Chair thanked Officers for attending and stated that she hoped the Committee’s frustrations with ongoing follow ups were understood, and requested that Officers aim to complete outstanding actions as promptly as circumstances would allow.
the report and updates provided by Officers be noted.