The Committee is asked to consider the Officer recommendations.
Theresa Mortimer, CIA, presented the report in detail. The purpose of the report was to inform members of the progress of the internal audit activity in relation to the 2019/2020 Internal Audit Plan, including the opinions provided on risk and control.
The Committee welcomed the report which showed a graphical summary of the opinions provided to date on the effectiveness of risk identification and control. It was reported that there was an overall satisfactory and above rating of 62% on control and 77% on risk. The CIA explained that the GFRS audits significantly contributed to the increase on the opinions on the control environment (38%).
It was noted that all 60 recommendations made by Internal Audit to improve the control environment during this period had been accepted by management.
Members’ attention was drawn to those audits undertaken during the period July – September 2019, of which five limited assurance opinions on control had been provided during this period relating to Approval of Payments to Agency Staff limited assurance follow up, Alternative Provision Schools – Stroud and Cotswold, GFRS HR and Payroll – Expenses and service benefits, GFRS Fleet management – use of pool cars, personal and leased cars and fuel schemes and GFRS Syrian Refugee Grant. The Committee were reminded that the GFRS activity has been reported in the previous agenda item.
The CIA referred to the management assurance framework on page 136 as agreed with the Director of Education, to provide the Committee with the assurance that schools were or had addressed Internal Audit recommendations. The Director of Education will attend the Audit and Governance Committee on an annual basis commencing July 2020.
It was suggested that the local member should be advised by internal audit of any issues relating to schools within their wards, the CIA explained that the CIA reports functionally to the Audit and Governance Committee to maintain independence, this means that all outcomes are initially reported to the committee. However, the Audit and Governance Committee have the powers to provide details of issues / concerns they feel relevance to Cabinet Members. These issues can then be formally referred by the Committee at their meetings.
The CIA referred to the Approval of Payments to Agency staff audit where a limited assurance opinion was provided. The CIA advised members that the Director of People had provided data to Internal Audit on the 11th October 2019 to show that the recent work they had undertaken has significantly improved as the sign off rate has increased to 86% of agency timesheet i.e. down to 14% auto-approved. The decision on the new agency contract is going to Cabinet in December and the specification for the new system will not allow auto-approval so if managers do not sign off agency timesheets the worker will not get paid.
Based on the above, the committee agreed that they would not require physical management attendance to the next committee meeting and would wait for the outcome of the Internal Audit follow up review of this area.
The CIA reaffirmed the Council’s three lines of defence risk assurance model and suggested that the second line of defence in respect of corporate oversight / risk compliance required further enhancement.
Some members felt the rules had been previously misinterpreted by some Directors and it was necessary to have a clear and consistent approach going forward.
In response to a question, it was explained that Human Resources were now concentrating on the culture element of the Authority. Members were advised that this was also being reviewed by the task group.
The Director of Corporate Resources informed the Committee that there was some work to do to ensure that it was fit for purpose and to make it easier to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing. It was essential to ensure that staff understood clearly understood their role within the organisation and changed their mind set to focus on the public.
That the report was duly considered.