Agenda item

Internal Audit Protocol


The Chair agreed to hear item 10 on the Internal Audit Protocol before item 9.


The Chief Internal Auditor presented the report to the Committee and explainedthat the Internal Audit Protocol gives some general guidance on the responsibilities of Members, officers, and the Internal Audit team. It also provides detailed guidance on specific issues around the internal audit processes, such as turnaround times for reports and the timeliness of management responses.


The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed that on pages 107-109 of the agenda the responsibilities of members, senior management, the Standards and Audit Committee, internal and external auditors are set out. Some of the key points are that Senior Management are responsible for ensuring there are proper internal controls in their service. Negative red reports that could have an impact on the Council’s reputation have to go through Directors Board before they are issued as final. Any red reports should be reported to the Standards and Audit Committee by the relevant senior manager.


The Standards and Audit Committee review external and internal audit plans to ensure proper resourcing of its functions and ensure the risk management strategy is operational and reviewed periodically.


Where members are concerned in the Standards and Audit Committee they can report issues back to the Chief Executive and S151 Officer and this has been done before regarding major projects and officers were asked to attend the Standards and Audit Committee and give updates on the A13 project.


Page 110 sets out the details of the de-brief meeting. A de-brief meeting takes place within 10 days of the field work being completed.


The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed that the external and internal audit teams are not working together as closely as they did before the pandemic.  This is a national issue too. The Internal Audit team do place reliance on external providers too such as CQC or Ofsted where they don’t have the relevant expertise in-house.


Councillor Collins queried the internal system to flag up when things are not going as they should be as there doesn’t appear to be anyone outside the organisation they can report it to if the concern is about a senior officer such as the S151 officer.


The Chief Internal Auditor responded that if Members had any suspicions about senior officers the Chief Internal Auditor has a right of access to the S151 Officer, Monitoring Officer and Chief Executive and he would not need to report into those senior officers if they were suspected of wrongdoing. If the Chief Internal Auditor had a concern about fraud, he would contact the fraud team straight away. The internal fraud team would then investigate.


Councillor Ralph queried what is being done in the new procedure and how has it been improved.

The Chief Internal Auditor confirmed that the Protocol has a great level of detail and is more robust than a lot of other Council’s protocols.


Councillor Collins stated that he would like to see a paragraph confirming what the process is if senior officers are suspected of wrongdoing or fraud.


The Chief Internal Auditor agreed that could be done.


Councillor Ralph commented that Members could also contact the fraud team directly if they had concerns.


The Chair asked how relations with external auditors could be improved.


The Chief Internal Auditor stated that at the moment the focus is on the Best Value Inspection. They will set aside time in 2 to 3 months to update each other on where they are at to ensure they are not duplicating work.


An additional recommendation was suggested by Councillor Collins and this was seconded by Councillor Ralph. The recommendation was added at paragraph 1.2.




1.1      That the Standards & Audit Committee:

Agree that the Internal Audit Protocol provides the council and the Internal Audit Service with a process for improving the timeliness of reporting arrangements and sets out a formal escalation process for non-compliance.

1.2     An alternative route of reporting will be added to the Protocol if senior officers are suspected of fraud or wrongdoing.


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