To consider the attached report.
Contact Officer: Kate Mulhearn (01296) 585724
The Committee received a report which detailed a strategic risk assessment and plans for internal audit work for 2019/20. Information on the annual plan and indicative timeline of proposed reviews was detailed at Section 4 of the plan.
A summary of the approach undertaken for the risk assessment and preparing the internal audit plan was provided. The plan was driven by the Council’s organisational objectives and priorities, and the risks that might prevent the Council from meeting those objectives.
The development of the internal audit risk assessment and plan had taken into account the requirement to produce an annual internal audit opinion by determining the level of internal audit coverage over the “audit universe” and key risks. Each auditable unit had been risk assessed at a high level to determine the priority for internal audit, represented by the frequency of audit review.
In developing the internal audit risk assessment, assurance had come from numerous sources within the Council as well as taking into account other sources where reliance could be placed upon them. Corporate level objectives and risks had been considered when preparing the plan. Members were informed that in developing the plan for the final year of AVDC, particular consideration had been given to the Unitary context and the changing priorities and risk of AVDC as a transitioning authority rather than as a continuing organisation.
In putting together the plan, consideration had been given to the impact that an internal audit review might have on the capacity of teams involved to deliver their core activities, particularly as teams were already stretched to deliver those services; additional work associated with a review and, in many cases, transitionary work in preparation for the unitary authority. More assurance from “first and second level” sources, such as the risk management process and work being undertaken as part of the transition programme would be needed.
Input had been obtained from Directors, Assistant Directors and Senior Managers to identify any specific areas that might require reviewing.
Members were informed that the Internal Audit Plan would be reviewed on a quarterly basis to allow for flexibility to pick up new areas of risk or organisational change and would be reported to the Audit Committee as part of the progress report.
Members sought further information on the Plan for 2019/20 and were informed:-
(i) It was confirmed that particular attention had been given to audits that provided added value to the Council as a transitioning authority. Because of this, the plan was “lighter touch” than would normally be the case. However, flexibility had been built into the plan to enable specific reviews to take place if considered to necessary.
(ii) Referred to in response to a number of the reports included on the Committee agenda, it had been recognised that the risk of losing key staff during the transitioning process was relatively high and was likely to increase as vesting day approached. The Committee was assured that Cabinet was reviewing the position regularly and was prioritising work and resource allocation accordingly.
(iii) It had been recognised that as the Council moved towards vesting day, there would also be limited time for the implementation of any actions arising from internal audit reviews.
(iv) An explanation was given concerning the treatment of fixed assets transferring to the new unitary authority.
That the approach taken in connection with the formulation of the Internal Audit Strategy and Plan for 2019/20 be endorsed and the Plan as a whole be approved.