Audit Committee, Minutes, 19 January 2004

Audit Committee, Minutes, 19 January 2004

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Audit CommitteeMinutes of a meeting of the held in the Warren Room, Lewes House,32 High Street, Lewes on Monday 19 January 2004 at 2.30pmPresent:Councillors J E A Best (Chairman), R C S Brown, J F Daly, K G Davies, H B Livings,G Munro and M A Pepper Officers attending:David Feintuck, Committee OfficerDavid Heath, Chief Internal Auditor Also attending:Councillor S I C JamesApologies received:Graham Liddell, Audit Manager, Audit CommissionMinutes Action21 Membership of the CommitteeThe Committee considered Report No 32/04, which confirmed and noted changesto the membership of the Committee. The Chairman welcomed CouncillorsK G Davies and M A Pepper to the Committee and recorded the Committee'sthanks to Councillors E N Collict and A L Small for their service on the Committee.Resolved:21.1 That the appointment of Councillor K G Davies as a member of the HDSCommittee in place of Councillor E N Collict be confirmed; and21.2 That the appointment of Councillor M A Pepper as a member of the HDSCommittee in place of Councillor A L Small be noted.22 Declaration of Substitute MembersThe Committee noted that Councillor G Munro had been appointed as substitute HDSfor Councillor R D Fricker.14Audit Committee 15 19 January 200423 Urgent Item - Value for Money (VFM) Review of the Use of Temporary Staffwithin the Council (Report No 36/04)The Chairman advised that he had agreed, in accordance with Section 100B(4)(b)of the Local Government Act 1972, that ...

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Audit Committee
Minutes of a meeting of the held in the Warren Room, Lewes House,
32 High Street, Lewes on Monday 19 January 2004 at 2.30pm
Present:
Councillors J E A Best (Chairman), R C S Brown, J F Daly, K G Davies, H B Livings,
G Munro and M A Pepper
Officers attending:
David Feintuck, Committee Officer
David Heath, Chief Internal Auditor
Also attending:
Councillor S I C James
Apologies received:
Graham Liddell, Audit Manager, Audit Commission
Minutes Action
21 Membership of the Committee
The Committee considered Report No 32/04, which confirmed and noted changes
to the membership of the Committee. The Chairman welcomed Councillors
K G Davies and M A Pepper to the Committee and recorded the Committee's
thanks to Councillors E N Collict and A L Small for their service on the Committee.
Resolved:
21.1 That the appointment of Councillor K G Davies as a member of the HDS
Committee in place of Councillor E N Collict be confirmed; and
21.2 That the appointment of Councillor M A Pepper as a member of the HDS
Committee in place of Councillor A L Small be noted.
22 Declaration of Substitute Members
The Committee noted that Councillor G Munro had been appointed as substitute HDS
for Councillor R D Fricker.
14Audit Committee 15 19 January 2004
23 Urgent Item - Value for Money (VFM) Review of the Use of Temporary Staff
within the Council (Report No 36/04)
The Chairman advised that he had agreed, in accordance with Section 100B(4)(b)
of the Local Government Act 1972, that the above Report be considered as
a matter of urgency in order that all the information now available with regard to
the Value for Money Review of the use of Temporary Staff Within the Council be
available for consideration.
The full Report had been circulated to all members of the Audit Committee on
15 January 2004.
24 Minutes
The Minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2003 were approved as a correct
record and signed by the Chairman.
25 Progress Report on Decisions Taken by the Audit Committee
The Committee considered Report No 33/04 which updated councillors on the
progress made in relation to the decisions of the Audit Committee.
With regard to Minute No 18.2, the proposed outline of a Value for Money Review
of IT Procurement would be brought to the Audit Committee on 1 March 2004.
With regard to Minute No 19.2, the recommendations set out in section 5 of Report
No 328/03, Value for Money Review of the Income Generating Potential of the
Tourist Information Centres, would be included in the Report to be presented to
Cabinet at its meeting on 18 February 2004.
Resolved:
25.1 That Report No 33/04 relating to progress made in relation to the decisions HDS
of the Audit Committee be received and noted.
26 Internal Audit Interim Performance Report 2003/2004
The Committee considered Report No 34/04 relating to the Internal Audit work for
the period 1 April 2003 to 31 December 2003. The remit of the Audit Committee
included a duty to agree a three-year strategic audit plan and an annual plan to
keep this under review. The Chief Internal Auditor drew councillors' attention to
paragraph 3.1, table 1, of the Report. The shortfall of actual audit days compared
to planned audit days was explained in paragraph 3.2. Those figures were
distorted somewhat by unusual working patterns during December. When last a
benchmarking exercise had been undertaken, the Council had achieved the
highest percentage of actual days to planned audit days when compared to the
statistics of the other councils which had taken part in the exercise. Actual audit
15Audit Committee 16 19 January 2004
days spent on the Environmental Audit this year had been considerably higher
than expected because of the needs of EMAS accreditation. The Chief Internal
Auditor believed that the actual overall days to date would be close to the target by
the year end. The Internal Audit work undertaken during the period 1 April 2003 to
31 December 2003 was summarised in paragraph 4. The Chief Internal Auditor
drew councillors' attention to paragraph 4.5 which identified Internal Audit work on
Performance Indicators in preparation for the Comprehensive Performance
Assessment (CPA) inspection. That work helped to ensure none of the national
Performance Indicators was qualified. There were no causes for concern with
regard to the follow-up of Internal Audit recommendations (paragraph 5).
Councillor Pepper joined the meeting at 2.47pm.
In response to councillors' questions, the Chief Internal Auditor noted that the
shortfall of actual audit days spent on departmental and central systems might
require the carrying over of a small number of audits into the 2004/2005 Strategic
Audit Plan. That position, however, would be clearer by the year end. The Chief
Internal Auditor explained that some audits came in under their time budget and
others came in over; overall, they tended to balance each other out. Councillors
were invited to view any particular (confidential) Internal Audit reports if they so
wished. The Council had a duty to audit all key areas of activity even when the
Council funding for such projects (for example, coastal protection) was provided
from elsewhere.
Resolved:
26.1 That Report No 34/04 relating to the internal work of the Audit and Best DFCS
Value Division for the period 1 April 2003 to 31 December 2003 be received
and noted.
27 Corporate Governance in Local Government - Compliance with the
CIPFA/SOLACE Framework
The Committee considered Report No 35/04, which informed councillors of the
best practice guidance on Corporate Governance in Local Government and future
steps to adhere to that guidance.
The Chief Internal Auditor drew together themes from the Government's local
government modernising agenda. The key purpose of the guidance on Corporate
Governance was to prevent mismanagement in the public sector. The
CIPFA/SOLACE framework identified five dimensions of a local authority's
business which were detailed at Appendix A to the Report. The Audit Commission
had recommended comparing the Council’s systems and processes for Corporate
Governance against the best practice identified in the CIPFA/SOLACE framework.
In response to councillors' questions the Chief Internal Auditor considered that the
dates set for his division to
• compare the Council’s arrangements for Corporate Governance with best
practice as set out in the framework (by March 2004)
16Audit Committee 17 19 January 2004
• identify any issues that have not been addressed by the Council and consider
how they should be actioned (by April 2004)
• prepare a Local Code of Corporate Governance (by June 2004)
were reasonable (paragraph 5.1 of the Report). The Chief Internal Auditor would
CIAinform the Committee of any slippage.
Resolved:
27.1 That the officer proposals set out in paragraph 5.1 of the Report to enable DFCS
the Council to meet the CIPFA/SOLACE Framework for Corporate
Governance be approved.
28 Exclusion of the Public
Resolved:
28.1 That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972,
the public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of agenda
item 11 (Value for Money Review of the use of Temporary Staff within the
Council) as there is likely to be a disclosure of exempt information as defined
in paragraph 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
29 Value for Money (VFM) Review of the Use of Temporary Staff within the
Council
The Committee considered Report No 36/04, the covering Report for the Value for
Money Review, together with the full Report which had been circulated separately
as an urgent item (see Minute 23 above).
The Chief Internal Auditor stated there were no recommendations as a result of the
review. No significant problems had been identified in the course of the Review
and all managers and officers were happy with that conclusion. The Committee
was requested to note the analysis of consultancy costs as set out in Section 5 of
the main report. The Chief Internal Auditor drew attention to paragraph 2.2 which
identified that the Council’s use of casual, short term and agency staff was well
controlled with such staff only employed in authorised posts and with the approval
of designated officers. Paragraphs 3.3 to 3.5 outlined where it was necessary to
make a number of adjustments to the scope of the Review. For example, although
a benchmarking exercise was to be undertaken it was considered unnecessary as
regular exchange of information at an operational level was already taking place.
In response to councillors' questions the Chief Internal Auditor stated that,
regardless of whether staff were recruited via agencies, the Council was liable for
their health and safety and required them under any circumstance to be properly
managed. Paragraph 4.1.6 noted that casual employees were able to acquire full
employment rights under certain conditions. It was not the practice of the Council
to use casuals to avoid employing permanent staff. It was not possible to directly
17Audit Committee 18 19 January 2004
compare the cost of permanent staff with agency premiums (paragraph 3.3.8).
The selection of agencies had been conducted carefully on the basis of economy
and competitiveness (paragraphs 4.4.6 and 4.4.7). Regular price monitoring of
agencies had taken place (paragraph 4.4.9). The Chief Internal Auditor noted that,
in some cases, the use of consultants was unavoidable because there were
insufficient skilled staff in house to deal with some specialist tasks.
Resolved:
29.1 That Report No 36/04, the Value for Money Review of the use of Temporary DFCS
Staff within the Council, be received and noted and a report thereon be
presented to Cabinet; and
29.2 That the Chief Internal Auditor be requested to obtain and to present to the DFCS
Committee the budget for consultancy fees during the periods analysed
within the Report for comparative purposes.
30 Date of Next Meeting
The Committee noted that the next meeting was scheduled to take place at
2.30pm on Monday 1 March 2004 in the Warren Room, Lewes House, Lewes.
The meeting ended at 4.10pm.
J E A Best
Chairman
18