To receive the annual Internal Audit opinion.
Sally Hendrick, Head of Audit and Risk Management presented the Internal Audit Annual Assurance Report 2018/19.
Sally Hendrick directed Members to her overall opinion in the Report concluding that Limited Assurance could be given that the framework of internal control, risk management and governance was adequate during 2018/19 as a whole.
The Report contained details of audits where a Limited Assurance/priority 1 recommendation had been given including one area of concern, debt management which had been highlighted as a concern across several audits in addition to the Council wide audit of debt management.
Concern was raised in respect of Creditors System where Limited Assurance had been given for the past four years. Stuart McKellar said this was largely due to a glitch in the Agresso system. A senior consultant, who happens to be an expert in Agresso, has been covering long-term sickness in the department, and if any problems occur, he will be able to dig deep to find out what the issue is. Stuart McKellar added that the issues usually related to the workflow after authorisation.
The Chairman said as the Executive Director, Delivery was attending the next meeting, he would be able to update on the Delivery audits where a Limited Assurance had been given, some of which were repeats on previous years.
Discussion took place about audits being deferred due to a lack of resource within departments which was putting pressure on the delivery of the Annual Audit Plan. Sally said when faced with a request for deferring she had no option other than to assume the area remained at its previous assurance level. Stuart McKellar advised members that CMT had requested quarterly updates from Sally, focusing on Limited Assurances and to be notified of any requests for deferral and the rationale for them. The Chairman proposed that the report on deferrals given to CMT be brought to the September meeting for review by the Committee; the proposal was seconded by Councillor Peter Heydon and all other Members were in favour.
The People Directorate had the most Limited Assurances in 2018/19. Sally said she understood that, the Directorate needed time to address the audit findings. In some cases, they were also focusing on a wider review of some of their services rather than prioritising the specific issues which had been identified by the audits
With regard to absence management, one priority 1 recommendation had been raised in October 2018 in relation to uncertainty about the completeness of sickness recorded. The audit had focused on whether staff were disclosing that they were sick and whether managers were managing the sickness absence properly. Sally said that automated reports had been introduced that were sent to managers which showed the level of absence recorded within teams for managers to check completeness. However, HR & OD had committed to further automating the reports to provide for a facility whereby managers had to confirm they had spoken to team members in order to confirm that absence reporting was correct for the reporting period.
Councillor Michael Gbadebo asked whether the departments carrying out a wider review of their services were taking into account the issues which had already been identified. Sally said she assumed that was the case as it was incumbent on managers to respond to the Limited Assurance reports. Sally added that it had been conveyed to the Director for People that it would be made clear to Heads of Service and the Assistant Director the expectation as to what action they should take in response to Limited Assurance reports.
RESOLVED: That the Annual Report by the Head of Audit and Risk Management setting out the Head of Internal Audit’s Opinion for 2018/19 be noted.