(Chief Internal Auditor) To consider the attached report (AGC-005-2019/20).
The Chief Internal Auditor presented the Internal Audit Monitoring report for the period April to July 2019.
The Chief Internal Auditor stated that eleven reports had been issued since the Committee’s last meeting in March 2019. Of these, 7 had been issued with substantial assurance, 3 with moderate assurance, and 1 report – Business Continuity- had been issued with no assurance. The Committee was informed that neither the Business Continuity Plan nor the ICT Disaster Recovery Plan were fit for purpose, and the contingency arrangements in place were also inadequate. An urgent project had been initiated to address the issues, which involved a dedicated Officer group working in conjunction with an external specialist. Progress with the project would be closely monitored by the Corporate Governance Group, which was chaired by the Chief Executive.
The Chief Internal Auditor added that the Audit Plan for 2018/19 had been delivered, with the exception of one audit – Access to Housing (Homelessness) – which the Committee had agreed to defer to the 2019/20 Audit Plan. However, sufficient work had been undertaken for the Chief Internal Auditor to give her annual assurance opinion.
In response to questions from the Committee regarding the lack of assurance for Business Continuity Planning, the Chief Internal Auditor explained that the previous Business Continuity Officer had moved to a different position within the Council, the Risk Management Group was not convening, and the new Business Continuity Officer had initially concentrated on the Health & Safety framework; the Business Continuity Plan was next on her work programme. The Council was exposed, but would be able to react if something catastrophic happened. The Project Plan attached to the report as an Appendix was highlighted as the management actions in place to address this issue, and there would be an update on the project to the Committee at its next meeting in November when the project should be close to completion.
Ms N Nanayakkara commented that this appeared to be another handover issue, and the Committee needed assurance that the same problems were not happening elsewhere throughout the Council. The Chairman added that there appeared to be a clear weakness with handovers which needed to be addressed, although it was accepted this was an unique circumstance where a number of senior people had left the Council within a short space of time for differing reasons. The Leader of Council acknowledged that steps should be taken to ensure that this did not happen again. The Chief Internal Auditor reminded the Committee that the Audit Plan was based on risk which highlighted some issues, and there were regular meetings with the Chief Executive and Leadership Team to ascertain if there were other issues that required investigation. The Council’s Risk Management framework was being reviewed as well and the Corporate Risk Register reporting arrangements were also being examined.
The Chairman congratulated the Internal Audit Team for achieving the Audit Plan for 2018/19, and remarked that it showed the advantage of having a shared audit service with Broxbourne Borough and Harlow District Councils as more could be achieved.
(1) That the progress made against the Internal Audit Plan for 2019/20 be noted; and
(2) That the summary of work performed by Internal Audit for the period April 2019 to July 2019 be noted.