3.0 Item 3 – Internal Audit Activity Report
ACARAC (05-16) Paper 3 – IA progress report
ACARAC (05-16) Paper 4 – IA Monitoring Recommendations
3.1 Gareth introduced his usual progress update documents which described the areas of focus during 2016-17. He also detailed his Continuous Professional Development including attending an Intra Parliamentary Heads of Internal Audit meeting and other networking opportunities such as meetings with Heads of Internal Audit from other public sector organisations across Wales.
3.2 The Committee asked how Gareth would approach the re-tendering of the Internal Audit contract, as the contract with TIAA was due to expire in July 2017. Gareth proposed continuing with a co-sourced arrangement, for which he would expect several tenders but said he would also build resilience within the team with a view to carrying out more in-house reviews.
3.3 The Chair thanked Gareth for his comprehensive updates and reminded the Committee that Gareth relies on a co-sourced partner to help him deliver the internal audit work. He also expressed his hope that there would be strong competition for the procurement exercise.
3.4 Gareth then explained how he had scoped the audit of Assembly Member expenses which would now be done in-house. He had discussed the audit with the WAO and with Members’ Business Support, primarily to gain an understanding of their work and the systems in place. His main focus would be on the resettlement grant and the cost of office set up following the election. The audit was on track to report to the Committee in April.
3.5 In accordance with Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, on a quinquennial basis the Head of Internal Audit is required to perform an External Quality Assurance (EQA) Review. At the recent Intra Parliamentary Forum meeting (17 November), Gareth had mentioned the possibility of carrying out this review through reciprocal arrangements with the other legislatures. He had also taken advice on this from his counterpart in the Welsh Government who was involved in setting the guidelines and standards for such reviews.
3.6 The Committee questioned the impartiality and independence of such an arrangement and Gareth explained it would be based on an initial self-assessment with external validation by one of his counterparts. They suggested that the standard review framework should be adapted to capture how each of the legislatures work differently. The reviewer should also be adequately qualified to perform the review.
3.7 Claire Clancy assured the Committee that assurance on the external validation would be sought as appropriate.
3.8 The Committee questioned why the number of high priority recommendations had fallen significantly over the past three years. Gareth suggested that it was dependent on the subject matter and that in previous years there had been several audits with numerous audit recommendations such as those on Recruitment, Security and the HR-Payroll project. More recently subject areas audited had received more positive audit opinions and hence fewer recommendations.
3.9 Dave Tosh added that work undertaken to embed governance and compliance within the organisation had also resulted in fewer recommendations and that the Governance and Audit team should be proud of their achievements in this area. The Committee agreed with this view.
- Gareth to circulate details, including the Terms of Reference for the EQA to ACARAC members out of committee.