Internal Audit & Assurance Plan 2021/22
- Meeting of Audit, Governance and Standards Committee, Monday 15th March, 2021 6.30 pm (Item 184.)
- View the background to item 184.
The Head of Audit Partnership introduced the report, referencing the importance of the Council’s adherence to the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards. The consultations undertaken with various Council officers in producing the Audit Plan were outlined. It was noted that there was 500 available audit plan days for the period 2021/22, with 60% to focus on the core risk-based audit work. It was hoped that a staff vacancy within the service would be filled shortly.
It was stated that the Council had grown in complexity as an organisation, with the importance of providing the assurance needed with even greater efficiency and scope noted. However, the Head of Audit Partnership stated that he was satisfied that there was sufficient resources and capacity available to deliver the Internal Audit and Reassurance Plan and Head of Audit Opinion.
Particular attention was drawn to the High Priority Engagements within appendix 1 to the report, which had to be undertaken to produce a robust audit opinion. The Climate Emergency response had been delayed from the 2020/21 plan due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Phishing responses included as a high priority due to the importance of managing the Council’s IT system’s integrity whilst staff were working remotely. Procurement had moved into a shared service with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and it was important to assess its functionality. Residents’ Parking had not been assessed for several years and with the transition from a paper-based to an electronic system, it was necessary to assess the service to ensure it retained a high level of control.
The medium priority engagements were referenced and would be updated throughout the year. The ‘either/or’ options for these engagements were intended to moderate the impact of the work on other officers within the Council.
The follow-up actions were noted, with the possibility of verifying the Council’s distribution of Covid-19 related business support grants highlighted, alongside the time allocated to Risk Management and Counter Fraud support. It was hoped that further training would be provided to Members and Officers on the latter, to include counter bribery.
The outcomes of the External Quality Assessment were referenced as the Committee had been provided with a Quality Assurance and Improvement Plan guide attached within Appendix 1 to the report. This included a list of the full audit universe.
The Head of Audit Partnership stated that every staff member in the Audit Team had either achieved or was working towards a professional qualification.
In response to comments, the Head of Audit Partnership stated that Contract Management was categorised as a medium priority due to Procurement having become a shared service, which had increased its priority. Contract Management would be prioritised within the medium priority actions. The Development [of] Capital Projects action could be included within the eight medium priority actions to be completed, depending on the level of progress made to the Council’s capital programmes over the next year.
Business Continuity had not been considered since 2015/16 and the original list of areas to consider within the action had been significantly longer. The list had been reduced due to resource implications and it was felt that a retrospective exercise could be undertaken next year to assess Business continuity instead. Election Management would include postal voting, however the task would need to be conducted at a suitable time given the number of elections occurring in May 2021.
It was likely that Staff Performance Management would be considered. Tech Support was placed as a medium priority due to the importance of network security and phishing within the high priority action list. The Director of Finance and Business Improvement would continue to be consulted on Property Acquisition, for its inclusion in the Audit Plan when necessary. The flexibility of the plan was reiterated.
In response to questions, it was confirmed that the Councils’ waste collection service was being considered. If Members wished to comment on any of the Council’s services, they could contact the Head of Audit Partnership.
The Talent Management medium priority would consider how staff are supported in remote working and would likely be considered in next year’s plan.
It was confirmed that the Committee would be presented with an executive summary of the work undertaken in completing Pre-Application Planning priority.
The Committee expressed their thanks for work undertaken.
1. The Internal Audit and Assurance Plan for 2021/22, including that the Head of Audit Partnership be given delegated powers to keep the plan current as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be agreed;
2. The Head of Audit Partnership’s view that internal audit currently has sufficient resources to deliver the plan and a robust Head of Audit Opinion, be noted; and
3. The Head of Audit Partnership’s assurance that the plan is compiled independently and without inappropriate influence from management, be noted.
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