Agenda item

Internal Audit Terms of Reference, Code of Ethics, Audit Strategy, Strategic and Annual Audit Plans and Summary of Internal Audit Coverage for 2013/14 (Agenda item 12)

Report by the Head of Internal Audit.

Minutes:

The Internal Audit Consortium Manager stated that the report served to demonstrate the links between key audit documentation detailing the way in which the service would operate in the new year, through to the population of Strategic and Annual Audit Plans for 2013/14 onwards.  However, Members were asked to note that from 1 April 2013, new Public Sector Internal Audit Standards would be coming into force that would supersede CIPFA’s Code of Practice and call for some revisions to the terms of reference and other papers currently being presented.  As soon as detailed guidance was published by CIPFA in April 2013, the Internal Audit Consortium Manager would review and realign working practices so that they fully comply with the new requirements specified in these standards.  It was already appreciated that an Audit Charter would need to be complied in the new financial year.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to section 3.2 of the report (on page 75) that commented on the level of consultation that had been undertaken by Internal Audit with External Audit colleagues and other Internal Audit Service providers.  Internal Audit had been mindful of the financial pressures facing the authority both currently and in future years and had therefore been liaising with its counterparts at St Edmundsbury Borough Council and South Holland Council as well as the External Auditors, Ernst & Young to ensure that there was no duplication of work and wherever possible, reliance could be placed on each other’s work.  Internal Audit would continue to maintain a dialogue with these bodies with a view to minimising auditing costs to the authority wherever possible.

 

Referring to section 3.3 of the report, Members were reminded that an Audit Joint Working Protocol would be extracted in due course, and brought to the Audit Committee meeting in June 2013.

 

Focus was next given to Internal Audit’s Code of Ethics for 2013/14, mentioned in Section 3.4 of the report with full details attached at Appendix 2 (pages 90 – 93).  The Code of Ethics sets out the minimum standards for the performance and conduct of Breckland Council’s Internal Auditors and had been completely rewritten to satisfy the new Public Sector Internal Audit Standards.

 

The Internal Audit Consortium Manager also comments on the Internal Audit Strategy at Section 3.5 and Appendix 3 to the report, emphasising that the new Strategic and Annual Audit Plans had been formulated using the outcomes of a recently completed audit needs assessment exercise.  Such Plans were very much living documents that could be amended to respond to changing corporate priorities and new legalisation as well as new initiatives being adopted by the Council; hence, resources could be re-directed where needed most throughout the year.  The Internal Audit Strategy sets out how Internal Audit was now adopting a more standardised approach to the number of planned days required to undertake specific audits at Consortium sites.  Further to this, a number of audits had been repackaged to create greater uniformity of coverage and help promote increased sharing of best practice across Consortium sites.

 

The Audit Plan envisaged a total of 232.5 days to be delivered in 2013/14 this translated into 19 assignments, three of which would be delivered by St Edmundsbury Council’s Internal Auditors.  The number of days for 2013/14 was comparable with revised planned days for 2012/13.

 

The levels of assurance paper noted in Section 3.9 and set out in detail at Appendix 7 had been circulated separately as a coloured document to provide a strong visual presentation as to how the internal control environment at the Council had been changing year-on-year.  The appendix highlighted the historical and current position, as well as future coverage being put forward.  The colours applying to the levels of assurance were also explained.

 

The Audit Committee was being asked to approve the range of supporting documents.

 

Mr Ludlow asked for the meaning of TIS online service under the heading Other Documentation on page 96 of the report.  Members were informed that TIS stood for CIPFA’s Technical Information Service.  Mr Ludlow was pleased to note that all internal audits referred back to the risk register.  The Assistant Director of Finance advised that this would be something that he and the Internal Audit Consortium Manager would be looking at to ensure that those risks had been reflected.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(1)         the Internal Audit’s Terms of Reference and Performance Indicators for 2013/14 be approved;

 

(2)         the Code of Ethics for 2013/14 be approved;

 

(3)         the Internal Audit’s Strategy for 2013/14 be approved;

 

(4)         the Strategic Audit Plan for 2013/14 to 2015/16 be approved;

 

(5)         the Annual Audit Plan for 2013/14 be approved; and

 

(6)         the summary of Internal Audit Coverage for 2013/14 be approved.

 

Supporting documents: