(Report of the Audit Manager)
Ms Rebecca Neill (Shared Head of Audit) presented the Internal Audit Progress Report for the period to 31 December 2020 (Quarter 3). She advised that the audit opinion remained reasonable at this three-quarter stage of the year. She advised that 67% of the audit plan had been completed which remained a strong performance against audit’s main KPI which was to deliver 90% of the plan by year end. She added that Covid-19 was still having an effect on services and their ability to respond to audits which is in turn impacting on other audit performance measures at Section 5 of the report. She reminded the committee that these were new PI’s introduced with challenging targets, but that they should continue to be strived for in normal times. Members agreed that, in what had been an interesting year, it was heartening to see how far the audit programme had come.
Ms Neill summarised the positive direction of travel in audit follow-up implementation rates, highlighting 107 actions outstanding in comparison to the 230 outstanding actions which were in place at the start of the new system for follow up, last year. Members’ attention was drawn to the Appendix of the report which was a summary of all the detailed audit reports the members receive.
Matters raised at the last committee were discussed, namely the high priority finding in the Remote Working Audit, regarding unencrypted laptops and the GDPR limited assurance follow-up audit. Ms Neill summarised the progress to date, which was that a position statement was sent to members from management in November 2020 and that an audit follow-up report had been sent to members in January 2021. She said that there were 9 unencrypted laptops at the last follow-up and that this had now reduced to zero. In terms of the GDPR follow-up, there were now 4 High and 2 Medium priority actions outstanding. Ms Christie Tims, Head of Governance and Performance, provided an update and was pleased to report that, subject to verification by the internal audit staff, 99% of all actions as of the previous day had been completed. There were only 2 items outstanding on the project plan which related to the medium priorities on the audit and everything else had been completed by the end of January. She thanked the IT staff involved as all actions were now in place and she assured members that a forward plan to maintain datasets was now to be implemented. Ms Neill assured the actions would be followed up until all the recommendations were implemented. Members requested that a progress report come back to the next committee meeting.
The number of high priority actions were discussed, and members requested more information on which of the high priority actions had been outstanding, post January 2020. Ms Neill said she would provide more detail for the committee.
There was a query on the payroll audit report, relating to the transition to a new payroll provider, as there was only 5 months to go on the current contract. Councillor Strachan said a report was on the Cabinet agenda for the forthcoming week and Ms Tims confirmed that there was a preferred supplier and reassured the committee that they could meet the deadline.
Ms Neill was asked if the Capital Strategy audit also looked at disposals and if they were involved with the issue regarding the disposal of Land at Netherstowe and Leyfields open spaces. Ms Neill said she would check the scope of the audit and report back but internal audit was not reviewing that particular issue. Ms Tims advised that she was currently in the final stages of awarding the procurement of this independent external investigation and this item would be added on to the Work Programme for the March or April meeting.
The Procurement audit was discussed as the only limited assurance report. Mr Thomas gave assurance that the new procurement team were working through this plan. Mr Thomas said one of the actions was the approval of a procurement strategy, which had been done. He believed the other high priority was to update the contract register and he knew the team were engaging significantly with services to get the contract register updated. Ms Neill assured the members that the same process for procurement would apply as to GDPR and a follow-up of the audit would be provided.
RESOLVED:- The committee noted the contents of the report.