Agenda and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 26th June, 2014 2.00 pm

Venue: Witham Room - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Jo Toomey 

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    The minutes of the meeting held on 13 March 2014 were proposed, seconded and agreed as a correct record.



    Report number HOF279 by the Head of Finance.                          (Enclosure)


    The Committee considered report number HOF279 by the Head of Finance on Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, a copy of which were attached as an appendix to the report. The new Standards were introduced on 1 April 2013 and amalgamated two previous standards into one. Members were assured that , the Council was adhering to the  CIPFA standards and that the internal auditors, Baker Tilly, were also fully compliant with the standards.


    Brief reference was also made to the Internal Audit Charter, which had been considered by the Committee in November 2013. Since that meeting work had been undertaken to ensure the Charter was fit for purpose. Members were advised that the Charter would be re-presented to the Committee for endorsement with the Internal Audit Plan for 2015/16.


    The Committee noted the report.



    Report of internal audit.                                                                       (Enclosure)


    Rob Barnett, Senior Manager from Baker Tilly presented the Internal Audit Annual Report 2013/14. The report summarised Internal Audit activity during the year and explained that sufficient work had been undertaken on which to base opinions on governance, risk management and the control framework.


    Committee members were advised that the overall audit opinions for 2013/14 were the same opinions as those given for 2012/13 (green opinions in respect of governance and risk management and an amber opinion in respect of the control framework). Mr Barnett explained that the amber opinion was based on two advisory reports which identified weaknesses in the control framework and the number of medium and high risk recommendation not implemented by the due date. Internal audit were, however, pleased to note that no audits were given red opinions and that all recommendations made were accepted by management.


    In response to the question of a Committee member, Mr Barnett explained that the opinion given for each audit was not based on the quantity of recommendations but a combination of the risk associated with the subject of the audit and the number and scope of recommendations.


    The Committee noted the report.


Internal Audit Tracking Report

    Report of Internal Audit.                                                                       (Enclosure)


    Mr Barnett from Baker Tilly presented the Internal Audit follow-up report, which reviewed progress against the implementation of medium and high risk recommendations made by Internal Audit. The follow-up report gave an opinion that adequate progress had been made. Of the 34 recommendations featured in the report, 23 had been implemented, 2 had not been implemented and 1 had been superseded, while implementation was ongoing in respect of 8 recommendations.


    The report included a management action plan with revised deadlines for those recommendations that had not been implemented. Members noted that all recommendations had been accepted by management and that Internal Audit was satisfied with the revised dates that had been given.


    The Head of Finance gave members an update on the implementation of recommendations relating to a social media policy and sample-checking of timesheets in relation to flexible working. These would be documented in the next follow-up report to Committee; members were advised that commentary on the slippage of the flexible working recommendation could be provided at that time.


    Members asked a number of questions about the audits covered by the follow-up report including the process for checking the attendance of car park enforcement officers, arrangements for dealing with over-payments and penalties for breaches of contract by the grounds maintenance contractor. Regarding grounds maintenance, Members were advised that the issue had been raised by the Scrutiny Committee and that any information provided to that Committee with regard to penalties could be shared with members of the Governance and Audit Committee.


    Brief discussion ensued on pool car arrangements. A question was asked about the method through which the use of pool cars would be assessed as safe and responsible. Members were informed that the measures in place required users to sign up to terms and conditions, placing the onus of responsibility with the individual, not the authority. Members also queried the process for checking staff driving licences. Managers were required to check licences at least once a year, more frequently for those services requiring regular vehicle use. Staff members were also required to declare any penalty points to their manager between checks; failure to do so would instigate disciplinary action.


    One member was concerned about the number of recommendations where commentary stated that they had not been implemented by agreed deadlines because of key staff moving on. Officers informed members that key staff leaving the organisation and failure to recruit had been identified during a recent review of organisational risk and would be added to the corporate risk register. A further suggestion was made that ‘buddying’ arrangements where recommendations became the responsibility of two officers could be put into place. Comment from Internal Audit indicated a preference for one named responsible officer so that responsibility and accountability was clear. Members were advised that when key officers left the council, heads of service were responsible for ensuring duties, including implementation of recommendations, were reassigned.



    Report number HOF278 by the Head of Finance.                          (Enclosure)




    The Governance and Audit Committee:


    1.    Noted the contents of report number HOF278 by the Head of Finance

    2.    Approved the latest version of the corporate risk register attached as appendix A to report number HOF278


    The Governance and Risk Officer presented report number HOF278 by the Head of Finance on the Risk Management Annual Report 2013/14 and update of the corporate risk register. She explained that the risk management strategy was next scheduled to be updated in 2014 and drew members’ attention to the positive opinion on the Council’s risk management arrangements given by Internal Audit.


    Committee members were advised that the council’s risk management group, which met every other month, discussed service risks, the corporate risk register and wider governance issues. The group was also scheduled to discuss exceptional risks arising from recent service risk reviews. The corporate risk register was also considered by the council’s management team on a quarterly basis.


    Councillors noted that two risks had been removed from the corporate risk register during the service reviews: failure to integrate new localised performance framework together with local measures linked to priority actions and failure to keep the public and parishes informed on Council priorities and issues; this was due to the risks now being managed at service level and have therefore been incorporated into ‘business as usual’. Any new corporate risks added as a result of the reviews would be included in the copy of the register presented to the committee at its meeting on 4 December 2014.


    The recommendations to note the report and approve the latest version of the corporate risk register were proposed, seconded and on being put to the vote, agreed.