ACARAC (01-20) Paper 3 – G&A update report
3.1 Gareth Watts introduced the report, which provided the Committee with an update on recent Governance and Assurance work, including heavy involvement with the Commission’s business continuity planning arrangements relating to the recent Covid-19 pandemic. He highlighted the following areas of progress:
· preparation of the first draft of the Annual Report and Accounts for 2019-20, which was being presented to the Committee at this meeting;
· completion of the internal audit review on cyber security, which was circulated out of committee, and recorded a moderate assurance rating;
· completion of the audit on project governance, which would be shared with the Committee shortly and had also recorded a moderate assurance rating;
· work on a review of compliance with the Official Languages Scheme in which, due to the Covid-19 outbreak he had taken a different approach to that planned. This had involved discussions with colleagues in the Translation and Reporting Service whereby he was able to obtain assurance and good evidence of compliance, including through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission and the Welsh Language Commissioner. A paper covering the findings of the review would be shared with the Committee in due course: and
· Victoria Paris’ successful completion of the Certified Internal Audit examinations.
3.2 Gareth explained that, due to difficulties presented by remote working, the planned audit on the Research Service would be delayed and that further consideration was being given to the viability of carrying out the audit on Members’ Expenses for 2019-20.
3.3 Committee members enquired about the recent Audit Wales report on Counter-Fraud Arrangements in the Welsh Public Sector and officials agreed to circulate this.
3.4 The Chair thanked Gareth for the update and Committee members welcomed his pragmatic approach to the prioritisation of work, given the circumstances.
3.5 In response to questions from Ann about the impact of delaying the audit of Members’ expenses and whether there were technological solutions in place to mitigate this, Gareth informed the Committee this was not possible at this time due to the processed involved. He added that discussions with Audit Wales and colleagues in Members’ Business Support were taking place to be in a position to provide minimal assurance for 2019-20. The Chair highlighted that the planned briefing on Members’ expenses would help to provide Committee members with a greater understanding of the processes in place.
3.6 In relation to questions about use of technology, Aled asked for clarification on rationale for the prominent use of Zoom video conferencing software over other technologies available on the market. In response Dave and Manon explained that Zoom had been chosen as it was able to facilitate the legal obligation to provide simultaneous translation for official Assembly business. It also had other useful features, including the ability to display a higher number participants on the screen than other platforms.
3.7 Responding to requests for an update on the theft of camera equipment during 2018-19, Gareth explained that this would be covered by the planned review of Fixed Assets which would focus on the safeguarding of assets and involve input from the Head of Security. Details of this review would be shared with the Committee in due course but Gareth agreed to provide further details on the circumstances surrounding this issue to Committee members in the meantime.
· (3.3) Gareth to circulate the Audit Wales report on Counter-Fraud Arrangements in the Welsh Public Sector
· (3.7) Gareth to share circumstances surrounding theft of camera equipment