Allerdale Borough Council Internal Audit Charter

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1 Allerdale Borough Council Internal Audit Charter Appendix A Document prepared by Document reviewed by Document replaces Document approved by Document due for annual review Internal Audit Manager Date July 2013 Senior Auditor Date July 2013 Internal Audit Charter 2011 and the Terms of Reference 2011 Approved by the Audit Committee Date June 2011 Date Internal Audit Manager Date April 2014 Foreword In any organisation, the responsibility for ensuring that the corporate goals and objectives are achieved and that results are consistent with expectations, rests with its management. To improve performance and ensure that the business delivers value to its stakeholders, management must take important risks. It is essential, therefore, that where risks are taken they are managed in line with the Corporate Risk Management Strategy and there are also adequate controls in place. Allerdale Borough Council has developed a professional internal auditing function to provide assurance over the adequacy of these controls, and assess the extent to which business processes are effective and contribute to the achievement of corporate goals and objectives. The internal audit activity must evaluate risk exposures relating to the organisation s governance, operations and information systems regarding the: Achievement of the organisation s strategic objectives; Reliability and integrity of financial and operational information; Effectiveness and efficiency of operations and programmes; Safeguarding of assets; and Compliance with laws, regulations, policies, procedures and contracts. This document sets out the Charter of the Internal Audit function and outlines its objectives, status, independence and the scope of the work carried out. Once read you will appreciate how you can contribute towards, and benefit from, the work carried out by Internal Audit. Chief Executive

2 Objectives Internal audit is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organisation s operations. It helps an organisation accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes. It has been framed to provide an effective internal audit service to meet the needs of the Council and to accord with the requirements and guidelines of Section 151 of the Local Government Act 1972, the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011 and Public Sector Internal Audit Standards which become effective 1 April The code of ethics are detailed with these standards, Internal auditors who work in the public sector must also have regard to the Committee on Standards of Public Life s Seven Principles of Public Life. The Internal Audit Section will ensure operations are in line with the new Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, where professional practices have changed these changes will be implemented at the earliest opportunity. Corporate Governance To comply with Regulation 4(2) of the Accounts and Audit (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2006, the council must publish an annual governance statement (AGS) which is the culmination of a review of the effectiveness of its governance framework and system of internal control. The review of effectiveness is informed by the work of managers who have responsibility for the development and maintenance of the governance environment, the Internal Audit Manager s annual internal audit assurance statement and the comments of external auditors, review agencies and inspectorates. To facilitate the Internal Audit Manager s statement all internal audit reports will contain a specific opinions on the level of assurance that can be given on the system/arrangements reviewed. Internal Audit will assist in the identification of other potential assurance providers and will liaise with them, especially the council s external auditors, in planning assurance activity. The Annual Governance Statement (AGS) will be approved by the Audit Committee alongside the annual Statement of Accounts and is signed by the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive. In compiling the AGS the CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) and SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers) document a framework for Corporate Governance in Local Government will be taken in to account. Internal Audit Responsibility The main areas of Internal Audit responsibility within the authority are to: A. Review, appraise and report on: The soundness, adequacy and effectiveness of the system of internal controls The application of good practice in corporate governance and the management of risk

3 The operations in place to establish and monitor the achievement of the Council s objectives The adequacy of arrangements in place to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources The suitability and reliability of financial and other management data, including aspects of performance management Compliance with corporate policies, procedures, controls and regulations Compliance with government legislation and statutory obligations and The extent to which the assets and interests are accounted for and safeguarded from loss. B. To assist officers and members in the effective discharge of their responsibilities. C. Provide assurance that key risks are being managed effectively and that appropriate controls are in place. D. Conduct special projects that make a material contribution to the achievement of the Council s aims and objectives. The nature and scope of the work may include facilitation, process design, problem-solving, training, consultancy and advisory services, but this list is not exhaustive. E. To provide advice and guidance on risk management, internal control, control design and implementation of systems and processes in line with the Council s financial regulations and accounting instructions, and internal audit best practice. Internal Audit utilise their knowledge of the professional internal auditing standards and practice advisories to provide independent and objective advice in these areas. The nature and scope of this work will vary and will be agreed with the audit client, time is allocated within the internal audit plan to respond to this corporate requirement, providing added value. F. Conduct independent internal investigations where directed by management. Internal Audit and Risk Management Managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of business risks in line with the Risk Management Strategy. This will be underpinned by the Council s Risk Register, which will be aligned to the Council Plan and the Organisational Improvement Plan and service planning processes. As an independent appraisal function Internal Audit s role is to assist managers in this process by evaluating risk in the areas under review, providing assurance wherever possible and making recommendations to optimise levels of control and improve systems and processes. Fraud and Corruption Policy and Procedure Internal Audit does not have responsibility for the detection of fraud and corruption. Managing this risk is the responsibility of management in accordance with the Council s Anti

4 Fraud and Corruption Policy. Where fraud and corruption is suspected reference should be made to the Council s Theft Fraud, Corruption and Bribery Response Plan and the Whistleblowing Policy, which sets out the responsibilities of officers and actions to be taken. Internal auditors will always be alert in their work to the risks and exposures that could allow fraud or corruption to occur and be aware of indicators of potential fraud. An internal auditor who discovers evidence of, or suspects, malpractice should report firm evidence, or reasonable suspicions, to the Internal Audit Manager who will evaluate the evidence and if appropriate report to management. It is a management responsibility to determine what further action to take. Organisational Relationships and Independence Internal Audit is an advisory function having independent status within the Council. The status of Internal Audit should enable it to function effectively however the support of the management is essential. Internal Audit should be involved in the determination of its own priorities, in consultation with management and the Audit Committee. The Head of Governance and or the Internal Audit Manager should have direct access to, and freedom to report to, all senior management including the Chief Executive, elected members and the Audit Committee. The internal auditor should have the independence in terms of organisational status and personal objectivity which permits the proper performance of duties. The Internal Audit Manager and staff in the section: Are under delegated arrangements, accountable directly to the Corporate Director (Resources) Have no executive or managerial powers, authorities, functions or duties except those relating to the management of the Internal Audit function Should not to be involved in the day to day operation of the Council Shall not be responsible for the detailed operation of the Council and Are not responsible for the detailed development or implementation of new systems, but can be consulted during the system development process on the control measures to be incorporated on new or amended systems. Will not assign an auditor to review any area for more than three consecutive years, individuals observe this standard to maintain independence and objectivity. The above ensures that the Internal Audit Section is able to give an independent opinion on the effectiveness of internal controls for all systems and activities reviewed. Involvement in day to day operations may result in that activity not being reviewed. Relationship with the Corporate Director (Resources) and Head of Governance Corporate Director (Resources) Has overall responsibility, as detailed within the Council s constitution, for Internal Audit Head of Governance Has responsibility for the management and monitoring of the work of Internal Audit

5 Relationship with Elected Members The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011 make the body (i.e. the authority) responsible for maintaining an adequate and effective internal audit. The Head of Governance and or the Internal Audit Manager must establish and maintain good working relationships and channels of communication with elected members and this will be achieved via attendance at the Audit Committee and other committees as and when required. Relationship with the Audit Committee The Audit Committee s role as it relates to the Internal Audit function includes: Monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of Internal Audit as reported via the Internal Audit Manager s quarterly reports Review of audit reports and ensuring any identified deficiencies in internal control are given adequate attention by management Review and approval of the Internal Audit Charter, Annual and Strategic Audit Plans and Supporting the independence of the Internal Audit function. Relationship with External Audit The Internal Audit Manager is to liaise with the external auditors of the Council to: Foster a co-operative and professional working relationship in line with the protocol for liaison between Allerdale Borough Council and external audit. Seek to ensure that there is no duplication of effort. Ensure appropriate sharing of information. Co-ordinate the overall audit effort and Agree the managed audit approach. In particular, the Internal Audit Manager shall: Discuss the Annual Internal Audit Plan with the external auditor to facilitate external audit planning at regular intervals Receive copies of external audit reports to management Gain a knowledge of the external audit programme and methodology and Provide liaison, where appropriate, between external audit and management for the purpose of resolution of differences. The aim is to achieve mutual recognition and respect, leading to a joint improvement in performance and the avoidance of unnecessary overlapping of work. The Internal Audit Section will follow the principles of the managed audit approach to ensure that external and internal auditors rely on each other s work, subject to limits determined by their different responsibilities, respective strengths and special abilities. Consultations should be held and consideration given to whether any work of either auditor is adequate for the purpose of the

6 other. The internal auditor does not automatically have a right of access to the records of the external auditor. The relationship between the internal and external auditor will usually be such that the external auditor will be able to allow easy access to the necessary records. Rights of Access To carry out their duties effectively, Internal Auditors, as defined within the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011, shall have access to: The books, documents, accounts, property, vouchers, records, correspondence, software applications, mobile devices and other data of the Council, including Partners and third parties, which are necessary for the proper performance of their duties and Any Member, Council employee or agency employee, for the purpose of furnishing information and explanations deemed necessary to form an opinion on the adequacy of systems and or controls. Council officers and members shall render every assistance to internal auditors in the conduct of their audits. The holder of highly confidential or sensitive information is entitled to ask that only Senior Audit Management has access to it. Advice and Guidance Internal Audit can add value by using their knowledge of the organisations operations and their professional skills to work with colleagues in advice and guidance projects, time is allocated as part of he internal audit plan to support management in this way. The Internal Audit function may provide the following consultancy activities (this list is not exhaustive) Requests for advice and guidance are reported to the audit committee on a quarterly basis who may request further information: Adequacy of control design. Review of policy and procedure in line with best practice and corporate aims and strategies. Special requests from officers, management, members and committees. Independent and Objective evaluation of controls, systems and procedures. Independent risk assessments of new and evolving projects. Fraud investigation and prevention. Participating in working groups in an advisory role. Process and control advice for information systems development and implementation. Scope The scope of these activities are defined in consultation with the client and the Internal Audit function, with the agreed objective to provide advice and guidance to the client as opposed to assurance over the effectiveness of the controls, process or procedure in question.

7 Competence and Standards Competence The Head of Governance and or the Internal Audit Manager are responsible for maintaining a team of staff that collectively possess the necessary knowledge, skills and disciplines for the achievement of the Internal Audit objectives. Staff will be competent to fulfil all their responsibilities. In particular, the Internal Audit Manager is to: Ensure staff possess appropriate knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience and Encourage and facilitate the continuing professional development of staff. Standards The Internal Audit Section is to operate in accordance with the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards, supporting practice advisories and Government Agencies (for any external activity). Internal Audit staff are to observe the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards Code of Ethics that call for a high standard of integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and competency. Internal auditors who work in the public sector must also have regard to the Committee on Standards of Public Life s Seven Principles of Public Life, information on which can be found at Proficiency and Due Professional Care Although Internal Audit review and report on the adequacy of internal control of the authority s systems, as per the Strategic and Annual Plans, they cannot be expected to give total assurance that control weaknesses or irregularities do not exist in the day to day management of those systems. In order to demonstrate that due care has been exercised the internal auditor should be able to show that work has been performed in a way which is consistent with this Charter Quality Assurance and Improvement Program The Internal Audit Manager is to maintain a process of review of the Internal Audit Section to provide reasonable assurance that its work conforms with the relevant standards and with the requirements of this Charter. The review process is to be ongoing and is to include adequate supervision of work performed, an internal review process and an external process by the external auditors and other inspection agencies.

8 Audit Process Planning Internal audit work should be planned, controlled and recorded in order to determine priorities, establish and achieve objectives and ensure the effective and efficient use of audit resources. Identification and prioritisation of auditable areas are to be based on an assessment of the risks pertaining to the achievement of the Council s objectives and specifically controls over the financial systems that support the Council overall. In assessing the degree of risk relating to individual auditable areas, the following factors must be considered: size parameters relating to the size of the exposure or risk control parameters relating to the likelihood of the risk materialising and detection parameters of unwanted consequences being detected if they do materialise. strategic objectives consideration of the Council s five Strategic Priorities and how they apply to each auditable area A strategic rolling audit plan that ensures coverage of the prioritised service and or functions is to be maintained and reviewed annually. This plan also takes into account how each area contributes to the five Priorities included in the Council Plan to ensure these areas are prioritised. An annual audit plan including objectives, priority, and resource requirements is to be prepared for each year. Planned work may be full systems reviews, follow up reviews, walkthrough reviews, projects, advice and consultancy assignments.. The Strategic Audit Plan and Annual Audit Plan are subject to scrutiny and approval by the Audit Committee. Evidence Evidence is at the core of the internal auditor s professional performance and its integrity is paramount to the overall quality of the audit product and conclusions drawn from audit work. Whatever the source or nature of the evidence, the internal auditor must be completely satisfied that it is, reliable, useful, relevant, sufficient and timely before drawing conclusions that will affect the outcome of the audit. Documentation Audit working papers contain the principal evidence to support the internal audit report and provide the basis for review of internal audit work.

9 The Internal Audit Section is to employ an audit methodology that requires the production of working papers, which document: Planning Examination and evaluation of the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls Audit procedures employed, the information obtained and the conclusions reached Review Reporting and recommending and Monitoring and follow up. Consultation In order to assist service providers to achieve their aims and objectives as per the Council s key priorities the Internal Audit Manager will discuss, with the Corporate Management Team and Heads of Service, how internal audit can assist and add value, as part of the audit service provision. The results of these discussions will assist in the production of the strategic and annual plans, which will be circulated for consultation prior to submission to the Audit Committee for approval. Prior to the commencements of individual audit reviews, the internal auditor is to liaise with the manager, or other key contact, of the area under review to discuss the purpose and scope of the review. This discussion is confirmed by circulating the Audit Brief. Whilst undertaking the reviews, Internal Audit staff are to consult, orally and or in writing, with relevant officers to: Ensure information gathered is accurate and properly interpreted Allow management to put their case to ensure that a balanced assessment is made Keep management informed on the progress of the audit Ensure recommendations are reasonable and practicable and Ensure that all agreed actions are followed up to ensure correct implementation. Management Response It is management s responsibility to review and consider the practicality of the recommendations in the draft report and to respond within ten working days to confirm their agreement to implement the recommendations and a reasonable timescale to achieve this. The implementation of agreed actions is monitored by Internal Audit, but is the responsibility of management to progress and complete. Details of the agreed actions due for implementation and their current status are reported quarterly to the Audit Committee. Escalation Process In the event of recommendations falling overdue without a satisfactory explanation from the assigned officer the matter will be referred to line management in the first instance, this will be seven days after the action due date. At the end of each quarter the Heads of Service will be provided with a list of outstanding actions for services within their management control in

10 an attempt to resolve the actions before reporting to the Audit Committee. One week prior to the submission of the quarterly report for consultation the Corporate Director will receive a list of outstanding actions. If a mutually agreeable solution is not achieved the Audit Committee may require explanations from management at the audit committee meeting in order for the committee to discharge their duties and be provided with the assurance that a sound system of internal control is in operation and risks are being managed to an acceptable level. Internal Audit will report to the Audit Committee the details of any recommendations made but not accepted by management. The Audit Committee may request an explanation from Internal Audit and or management to obtain further assurance that risks are being managed. Further information can be found in the detailed Audit Committee Escalation Process document.

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