SIAS Internal Audit Plans 2021/22
Report of the Shared Internal Audit Service
The committee received a report of the Client Audit Manager, Shared Internal Audit Service. The Client Audit Manager introduced the report explaining that the report set out the intended programme of work for the next financial year.
The Client Audit Manager outlined the context and background to the development of the new audit plans. He explained that the primary source of audits contained in the plans was through meetings with Group Heads of Service and with some Heads of Service.
He referred members to paragraph 2.7 on pages 53 and 54 of the report explaining that some of the plan related to Watford Borough Council (WBC) audits, others in respect of shared services and the remainder in respect of Three Rivers District Council. There had been an approximate 10% reduction in the number of audits to be carried out next year and this was similar to other authorities.
The Client Audit Manager advised that, currently, there would be 139 days allocated to WBC audits, 100 days to shared services and 123 days to Three Rivers District Council. A breakdown of the WBC and shared service days was shown in Appendices ‘A’ and ‘B’ respectively.
There had been a lot of change in the past year and this was likely to continue going forward. As a result, the audit plan was kept to a high level and with a refresh process in August/September to ensure the audits remained current. Any changes would be brought to the Audit Committee’s September meeting.
The annual key financial systems audits in the shared services audit plan would usually be itemised; but this year the plan showed blocks of time allocated to the high level subjects. The actual audits would then be determined later in the year to provide for detailed auditing and drilling down in to the issues. These would be brought to the committee’s attention at later meetings.
In response to questions from members, the Client Audit Manager:
· Advised that the revised planning system would maximise the number of audit days and result in a similar number of audits undertaken with perhaps one or two less than in previous years. The Director of Finance (Shared Service) added that the revised system was common with other authorities and brought planned audit days in to what had actually been delivered in the last few years. There would be no change in the level of audits.
· Explained that the new system would not require a restructuring of the SIAS team but there would be an examination of how to best deliver audits and of matters in relation to the skills of staff. He outlined initiatives that would be undertaken to help in the analysis of data. The Director of Finance (Shared Service) advised that this was a conversation that was happening across Hertfordshire and with discussions held at the SIAS Board as to how to utilise data analytics. There would be change for the better going forward.
· Clarified that there would be one IT audit carried out in 2021/22.
· Explained that SIAS was satisfied with how well audits had been undertaken in the present pandemic situation; that had resulted in a change to working practices. He outlined the value in using video conferencing platforms and in sharing IT equipment; and how this enabled more time to be spent on analysis. There was a role for face to face activity but the hybrid model would seem best going forward.
Members discussed future working practices and the challenges faced by the Revenue and Benefits Service in the past year. The Director of Finance (Shared Service) reassured the committee about the work conducted by the service to ensure that the payments of grants were only made to bona-fide individuals and of the number of cases where payment were refused due to fraud.
that members are recommended to approve the proposed Watford Borough
Council and Shared Services 2021/22 Internal Audit Plans.