Annual Report Year Ending 31 March 2010

REPORT TO THE ASSEMBLY

COMMISSION

YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2010

CHAIRMAN’S FOREWORD

On behalf of the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC), I am pleased to present the Annual Report for 2009/2010. The overall aim of the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee is to assist the Assembly Commission and the Clerk/Director General to manage the resources of the Assembly Secretariat effectively in order to secure value for money through sound and appropriate financial and governance arrangements. SARC is committed to conducting its business in an open and transparent manner as is evidenced by the contents of this Report and by the fact that SARC Terms of Reference and the minutes of SARC meetings are available on the Assembly website.

2009/2010 was the first complete year for the reconstituted Committee and as such, it presented many opportunities and challenges not least to ensure that all members of SARC received appropriate training to enable them to be effective in their roles and to further improve the Management Information System and Management controls available to SARC.

Much of the focus for the year was on providing support to the Clerk/Director and his team in relation to managing risk and driving up assurance levels and to contributing to the completion process for 2009/10 Accounts. The Internal Audit Plan for 2009/2010 was agreed by SARC on 23 April 2009 and Reports were received from the Head of Audit at each meeting.

I would like to thank the Assembly Commission for its support and for its invitation to attend its meetings as an observer. This has been extremely useful and informative. I would also like to thank Colm McKenna for his help and support to me as Chairman and also the Commission members, Alban Maginness MLA, Carmel Hanna MLA, Sean Neeson MLA and Stephen Moutray MLA for their important contributions to the work of SARC.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of the Clerk/Director General and the staff of the Assembly Secretariat who provide SARC with secretarial services and who work to ensure that the necessary corporate infrastructure are in place to support the aims of SARC.

ALAN MCQUILLAN
CHAIRMAN

CONTENTS

Chairman’s Foreword

Introduction

Governance Structures

The Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC)
Progress of SARC in 2009/2010

Budget and Expenditure 2009/2010

Budget for 2010/2011

Performance against key objectives 2009/2010

Evaluation of SARC

Internal Audit Activity in 2009/2010

Key Objectives 2010/11

Audit Plan 2010/11

Annexes

A SARC Terms of Reference

B Internal Audit Planning 2009/2010

C SARC Budget 2010/2011

D SARC Self Assessment

E Internal Audit Planning 2010/2011

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 This Report provides the Assembly Commission with an account of the activity and achievements of the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC) in 2009/2010 in relation to its objectives for that year. The Report also sets out the SARC’s objectives and budget for 2010/2011.

2. GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES

The three key organisational structures which support the delivery of corporate governance in the Assembly Secretariat are:

  • The Assembly Commission

The Commission was established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Section 40) to “provide the Assembly, or ensure that the Assembly is provided, with the property, staff and services required for the Assembly’s purposes”. The Assembly Commission may delegate any of its functions to the Speaker or a member of staff of the Assembly. The Assembly Commission is chaired by the Speaker and consists of five other Assembly Members.

  • The Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee

The Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee is independent of the Secretariat. It supports the Clerk/Director General in his role as Accounting Officer. It also provides independent support to the Assembly Commission in monitoring its responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance by reviewing the comprehensiveness of assurances.

  • The Secretariat Management Group

The Secretariat Management Group is a top level management forum to advise and support the Clerk/Director/General in the exercise of his duties. The Secretariat Management Group comprises the Clerk/Director General (Chair) and the Directors of Facilities, Resources, Engagement and Clerking and Reporting. The Director of Legal Services attends meetings as required.

3. THE SECRETARIAT AUDIT AND RISK COMMITTEE (SARC)

3.1 Background

The Northern Ireland Assembly Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee was reconstituted with an independent Chair and an independent Member to provide to the Assembly Commission and the Clerk/Director General advice and an objective assessment in relation to the assurances provided to the Accounting Officer on the risk management, control and governance arrangements within the Secretariat. The first meeting of the reconstituted Committee took place on 23 April 2009.

3.2 Membership

The membership of the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee consists of:

  • Two independent members, one of whom is the Chairperson.
  • One member of the Assembly Commission.

The Chairperson, Mr Alan McQuillan, and the Independent Member, Mr Colm McKenna, were appointed in March 2009.

The Assembly Commission representative on SARC until 26 June 2009 was Mr Alban Maginness MLA. He was succeeded by Mrs Carmel Hanna MLA from 2 December 2009 until her resignation as a Member of the Assembly on 17January 2010. Mr Sean Neeson attended the meeting of SARC on 9 September 2009 pending Mrs Hanna’s appointment. Mrs Hanna was replaced by Mr Stephen Moutray MLA with effect 3 February 2010.

The meeting is also attended and advised by the Clerk/Director General, the Director of Resources, the Head of Internal Audit and Mr Stephen McCormick of the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

3.3 Terms of Reference

Draft Terms of Reference were agreed at the first meeting of SARC which took place on 23 April 2009. The Terms of Reference were subsequently approved by the Assembly Commission on 21 May 2009. A copy is attached at Annex A.

3.4 Meetings

The Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee met five times during 2009/2010 (23 April 2009, 24 June 2009, 9 September 2009, 2 December 2009 and 3 February 2010).

SARC aims to meet at least four times a year although the Chairperson may convene additional meetings should he feel that this is necessary. A minimum of two Members of the SARC must be present for a meeting to be deemed quorate.

SARC meetings are normally attended by the Accounting Officer, the Director of Resources, the Head of Internal Audit and a representative from the Northern Ireland Audit Office. Secretarial support is provided by the Director General’s Office.

At its meeting on 24 September 2009 the Assembly Commission agreed to invite the Chairperson of SARC to attend Commission meetings as an observer. Mr McQuillan subsequently attended meetings of the Commission on 20 October 2009, 11 November 2009, 10 December 2009 and 18 February 2010. Mr McKenna attended the Commission meeting on 21 January 2010 in the absence of Mr McQuillan.

4. PROGRESS OF SARC IN 2009/10

4.1 Introduction

The focus of SARC during 2009/2010 has been on:

  • establishing management information and operating systems;
  • ensuring that all members have received appropriate training to enable them to be effective in their roles;
  • contributing to the completion process for 2009/10 Accounts;
  • providing relevant advice to the Clerk/Director General in his role as Accounting Officer.

4.2 Management Information Systems and Controls

At each meeting, SARC is provided with a number of analyses and reports including:

  • A log of all outstanding Audit Recommendations together with a statement of the current position on each and a target date for completion of any outstanding actions. This is used at each meeting to monitor progress and ensure that recommendations are managed and closed in a controlled manner.
  • Any significant changes to the Corporate Risk Register and any areas of concern. SARC monitors the actions taken by SMG to manage the Corporate Risks to ensure they remain both relevant and effective. Copies of the Assurance Statements completed by Risk Owners are submitted to the SARC for scrutiny every six months.
  • A report in relation to any issues of concern relevant to SARC regarding the delivery of the Corporate Plan objectives.
  • A progress report from the Head of Internal Audit summarising:
    • Work performed (and a comparison with work planned)
    • Key issues emerging from Internal Audit work
    • Management response to audit recommendations
    • Changes to the Periodic Plan
    • Any resource issues affecting the delivery of Internal Audit objectives
  • A progress report from the NI Audit Office representative summarising work done and emerging findings.

A list of additional detailed information which is provided as required is contained in paragraph 9.2 of the Terms of Reference (Annex A).

4.3 Internal Audit Programme for 2009/2010

Full details of the Internal Audit programme for the 2009/10 year may be found at Annex B attached.

The plan was developed following an organisation-wide risk assessment which factored in weightings from Corporate and Directorate Risks, the outputs from previous Internal Audits and NIAO issues. In addition consideration was given to financial impacts, vulnerability to fraud and reliance on IT.

Internal Audit then agreed key risk areas, following discussion with the members of the Secretariat Management Group, and has allocated audit resources in accordance with those priorities.

This has enabled the production of a risk-based audit plan and permitted the return to a structured programme of Internal Audits. This process, along with regular stewardship reporting will be used to inform the Committee on the systems of risk management, control and governance.

4.4 Accounts 2009/2010

Based on an examination of the Accounts and the Report to Those Charged with Governance, SARC recommended on [ 24 June 2010] that the Clerk/ Director General sign the 2009/10 accounts.  Alan McQuillan and Trevor Reaney expressed thanks to the staff involved in achieving the smooth completion of the accounts process within the required timescale and also to the NI Audit Office for their prompt and helpful comments.

5. SARC BUDGET AND EXPENDITURE FOR 2009/2010

The budget for 2009/2010 was estimated in the absence of any relevant historic data. The actual level of activity necessitated some in year adjustments to the budget.

BUDGET HEADING ORIGINAL BUDGET
£
IN YEAR ADJUSTED BUDGET
£
EXPENDITURE
£
Committee members’ fees and incidentals
12,000
12,000
8,271.88
Travel and subsistence
6,600
550
456.55
General Business Expenditure
700
1550
1,465.71
TOTAL
£19,300 £14,100 £10,194.14

6. SARC BUDGET FOR 2010/11

The total funding to support the activities of the SARC during 2010/2011 has been estimated at £16,800. This has been calculated in the light of expenditure during 2009/2010. A detailed breakdown of this budget is attached at Annex C.

7. PERFORMANCE AGAINST KEY OBJECTIVES FOR SARC FOR 2009/10

KEY OBJECTIVE PERFORMANCE
To support the Clerk/Director and his team in delivering the Secretariat’s Objectives, managing risk and driving up assurance levels This is a continuing process which is being achieved through advice provided at formal meetings of the SARC and informal discussions with the Clerk/DG, Head of Audit and Directors.

During the first years operation of SARC strong professional working relationships have been established respecting the respective roles of Directors and Independent Members. There are also excellent and supportive working relations with Internal Audit and the NI Audit Office.

During the period reporting period the total Corporate Risk score has improved from 38 to 28. However an additional Risk was introduced in relation to information security which increased this score to 37

The overall level of internal audit assurance has increased from “Limited” to “Satisfactory”.
To further improve the Management Information System and Management controls available to the SARC to ensure they are able to identify and analyse key issues SARC has worked with Internal Audit and the Directors to establish enhanced systems for managing risk. It has also initiated the compilation of a complete schedule of all outstanding audit recommendations and is in the process of reviewing these to ensure that all essential follow up actions have been completed.

This now means that the Committee has a clear overview on all those issues identified in the past and the steps being taken to address them, and those issues identified as current and future risks.

Recommendations were made in relation to:
  • Controls to be put in place following the Information Security Review
  • The methodology for the audit of members expenses and allowances
  • The description of controls in Assurance Statements
but this is a continuing process and SARC is now looking at ways of increasing the real focus on and ownership of risk at all levels and at reducing the bureaucracy associated with some of the existing systems.
To agree a clear Internal Audit Plan driven by the greatest risks faced by the Secretariat The Internal Audit Plan for 2009/2010 was agreed by SARC on 23 April 2009. This was driven by an analysis of risk across the various areas of the Secretariat’s operations.

8. EVALUATION OF SARC

In November 2009, the Assembly Commission approved a process for evaluating the effectiveness of SARC. This included an annual self assessment, the results of which would be included in the Annual Report to the Commission. The Commission approved a self assessment checklist based on that used by the Scottish Parliament and contained in the HM Treasury Audit Committee Handbook.

The completed self assessment checklist for 2009/2010 is attached at Annex D. This indicates the extent to which SARC has complied with its remit. It also identifies that there is potential for improvement in the following areas:

  1. The improvement the awareness of SARC and its role.
  2. The provision of support the Clerk/DG to ensure that agreed Audit recommendations are implemented within agreed timescale.
  3. The provision of advice in relation to the further development of Assurance Statements.

These are reflected in the SARC objectives for 2010/11.

9. INTERNAL AUDIT ACTIVITY IN 2009/2010

9.1 Work completed

Final Internal Audit reports have been issued in respect of the following assignments:

Compliance with Taxi Guidelines;
Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme;
Review of Outsourced Contracts;
Secretariat Payroll;
Secretariat Travel & Subsistence;
OFMDFM Committee;
Business Travel;
Information Security;
Review of Telephony;
Managing Attendance;
Recruitment;
Compliance with the Data Protection Act;
External Liaison Unit;

In addition the following reports are at draft stage:

Speaker’s Office;
Business Office;
Payments Processing;
Faster Closing
Members Expenses (per SSRB recommendation)

The routine Internal Audit programme was interrupted during October and November 2009 in order to carry out an investigation into the unauthorised release of Members’ expenses information.

The investigation involved the analysis of a significant amount of information and over 50 interviews were conducted. A report was passed to the Clerk / Director General at the conclusion of the investigation.

9.2 Summary of Assurance levels

It has been noted at the SARC meetings held during 2009 that the majority of Internal Audit reports have been issued with a satisfactory level of assurance.

The overall level of assurance for 2009/2010 was also satisfactory. However, Internal Audit has noted that improvements are necessary in the Assembly’s information management arrangements and it is encouraging that measures have already been taken to enhance the controls in place over IT systems.

Further work has been scheduled for 2010/2011 to ensure that improvements continue to be made.

9.3 Progress

The 2009/2010 year saw a significant increase in the number of Internal Audits performed and the programme included aspects of each Directorate. This enabled Internal Audit to provide the Clerk/Director General, in his role as Accounting Officer, with a more comprehensive opinion on the system of risk management, control and governance in the Assembly.

10. KEY OBJECTIVES 2010/11

The Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee has agreed the following objectives for 2010/2011:

  • To provide support and advice to the Clerk/Director and his team in delivering the Secretariat’s objectives in managing risk and driving up assurance levels.
  • To agree an Internal Audit Plan for 2010/2011
  • To advise on the further development and refinement of Management Information Systems to ensure they are able to identify and analyse key issues.
  • To provide advice to the Clerk/DG in relation to the format and content of Assurance Statements.
  • To work with the Executive Directors to increase awareness of the role of SARC and the understanding and ownership of risk across the Secretariat.

11. INTERNAL AUDIT PLAN 2010/11

As for the 2009/10 Plan, Internal Audit will continue with a series of audits identified using the organisation risk assessment carried out in February 2009. The plan will concentrate primarily on higher risk areas and will again include business areas from each Directorate.

A copy of the draft Plan for 2010/2011 is attached at Annex E

ALAN McQUILLAN, INDEPENDENT CHAIRPERSON
COLM McKENNA, INDEPENDENT MEMBER
ALBAN MAGINNESS MLA, ASSEMBLY COMMISSION REPRESENTATIVE TO 26 JUNE 2009
CARMEL HANNA MLA, ASSEMBLY COMMISSION REPRESENTATIVE FROM 2 DECEMBER 2009 TO 17 JANUARY 2010
STEPHEN MOUTRAY MLA, ASSEMBLY COMMISSION REPRESENTATIVE FROM 3 FEBRUARY 2010

ANNEX A

Northern Ireland Assembly

NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY

SECRETARIAT AUDIT AND RISK COMMITTEE

TERMS OF REFERENCE

1. BACKGROUND

The Northern Ireland Assembly Secretariat Review Report of October 2007 dealt with a number of issues including the identification of the appropriate organisational and management structures, policies and governance arrangements necessary to provide the Assembly with the property, staff and services required and to the standards expected.

In particular, recommendations relating to the Audit Committee structure and membership were made in order to ensure compliance with the HM Treasury “Audit Committee Handbook”, as relevant to the context of the Assembly Secretariat.

Therefore, in order to support the revised governance arrangements within the Assembly Secretariat (which include delegated authority from the Commission to the Clerk/Director General, an enhanced system of business planning and risk management, stewardship reporting and clear management structures) it was agreed to improve upon the existing Audit Committee arrangements.

The appointment of an independent Chair and an independent Member to the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC) will facilitate an objective assessment of the assurances provided to the Accounting Officer on the risk management, control and governance arrangements within the Secretariat. These assurances will range from stewardship statements from operational management, financial statements and reports from both Internal and External Audit.

The information provided to the Committee will enable the Chair to advise the Accounting Officer on the adequacy and effectiveness of the assurances and on how well the assurance received meets the assurance need.

2. ROLE

The Commission has established the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC) to support the Director General (in his/her role as Accounting Officer) and the Assembly Commission and Secretariat Management Group in monitoring their responsibilities for issues of risk, control and governance by reviewing the comprehensiveness of assurances in meeting the organisation’s assurance needs and reviewing the reliability and integrity of these assurances.

3. MEMBERSHIP

The members of the SARC include:

• One member of the Assembly Commission;

• Two independent members;

• The SARC will be chaired by one of the independent members.

The SARC will be provided with a secretariat function by the Office of the Clerk/Director General.

4. REPORTING

4.1 The SARC will provide the Commission, Accounting Officer and the Secretariat Management Group with an Annual Report, timed to support the finalisation of accounts and the Statement on Internal Control, summarising its conclusions from the work it has done during the year. The report will summarise the SARC opinion regarding:

(a) the comprehensiveness of assurances in meeting the Commission’s and Accounting Officer’s needs;

(b) the reliability and integrity of these assurances;

(c) whether the assurance available is sufficient to support the Commission and Accounting Officer in their decision taking and their accountability obligations;

(d) the implication of these assurances for the overall management of risk;

(e) any issues the SARC considers pertinent to the Statement on Internal Control and any long-term issues the Committee thinks the Commission and/or Accounting Officer should give attention to;

(f) financial reporting for the year;

(g) the quality of both Internal and External Audit and their approach to their responsibilities;

(h) the SARC view of its own effectiveness, including advice on ways in which it considers it needs to be strengthened or developed;

(i) the manner in which issues involving best use of resources/value for money have been addressed.

4.2 The Chair of the SARC should attend at least one meeting of the Commission each year to report in private, without the presence of members of the Secretariat.

4.3 The minutes of each SARC meeting should be made available to the Commission.

4.4 The Independent Chair and Member of the SARC will undergo an annual appraisal.

5. RESPONSIBILITIES

5.1 The SARC can help the Commission to formulate its assurance needs and then advise on how well assurance received actually meets the assurance need. Assurance will help the Commission to judge whether or not its agenda is focussing on the issues that are most significant in relation to achieving the Secretariat’s objectives and whether best use is being made of resources.

5.2The SARC will advise the Commission, the Accounting Officer and the Secretariat Management Group on:

• the strategic process for risk control and governance and the Statement on Internal Control;

• the accounting policies, the accounts and the annual report of the Assembly Secretariat, including the process for review of the accounts prior to submission for audit, levels of error identified and management’s letter of representation to the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO);

• the adequacy of management response to issues identified by audit activity including the Report to those charged with Governance from the NIAO;

• assurances relating to the corporate governance requirements for the Assembly Secretariat;

• assurance relating to the adequacy and effectiveness of both Internal and External Audit, the definition of future audit requirements and assist where required in deciding the best means of procuring these services;

• the extent to which anti-fraud policies, whistle-blowing processes and arrangements for special investigations comply with best practice.

5.3 Actions taken by the SARC in order to discharge its responsibilities will include:

• approval of the planned activity and results of both internal and external audit;

• the commissioning of specific audits;

• the identification (where appropriate) of sources of expert advice.

6. RIGHTS

The SARC may:

• co-opt additional members for a period not exceeding one year to provide specialist skills, knowledge and experience;

• procure specialist ad-hoc advice at the expense of the Assembly, subject to budgets agreed by the Commission.

7. ACCESS

7.1 The Chair of the SARC should have right of access to the Speaker in his role as Chair of the Commission.

7.2 The Head of Internal Audit and the representative of the Northern Ireland Audit Office will have free and confidential access to the Chair of the SARC.

8. MEETINGS

8.1 The SARC will meet at least four times a year. The Chair of the SARC may convene additional meetings, as he/she deems necessary.

8.2 A minimum of two Members of the SARC will be present for the meeting to be deemed quorate.

8.3 SARC meetings will normally be attended by the Accounting Officer, the Director of Resources, the Head of Internal Audit and a representative from the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

8.4 The SARC may ask any other officials of the Assembly to attend to assist it with its discussions on any particular matter.

8.5 The SARC may ask any or all of those who normally attend but who are not members to withdraw to facilitate open and frank discussion of particular matters.

8.6 The Commission, the Accounting Officer or Secretariat Management Group may ask the SARC to convene further meetings to discuss particular issues on which they want the Committee’s advice.

8.7 At the discretion of the Chair, minor matters which require attention between scheduled meetings of SARC may be dealt with by correspondence and reported to the next scheduled meeting.

9. INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS

9.1 For each meeting the SARC will be provided with:

• A report summarising any significant changes to the Assembly Secretariat’s Corporate Risk Register and any issues of concern relevant to SARC regarding the delivery of the Corporate Plan;

• A progress report from the Head of Internal Audit summarising:

▪ Work performed (and a comparison with work planned)

▪ Key issues emerging from Internal Audit work

▪ Management response to audit recommendations

▪ Changes to the Periodic Plan

▪ Any resourcing issues affecting the delivery of Internal Audit objectives

• A progress report from the NIAO representative summarising work done and emerging findings.

9.2 As and when appropriate, or when requested, the SARC will also be provided with:

• Proposals for the Terms of Reference of Internal Audit;

• The Internal Audit Strategy;

• Head of Internal Audit’s Annual Opinion and Report;

• Quality Assurance reports on the Internal Audit function;

• The draft accounts of the Assembly;

• The draft Statement on Internal Control;

• A report on any changes to accounting policies;

• A report from the Accounting Officer summarising progress against the Secretariat’s Business Plan, highlighting any issues that may be relevant to the work of the SARC;

• The NIAO’s Report to those charged with Governance;

• A report on any proposals to tender for audit functions;

• A report on co-operation between Internal and External Audit;

• The NIAO audit strategy;

• Information on any impending changes (as identified by Internal or External Audit) that may impact upon the work of the SARC.

10. REGISTER OF INTERESTS

Members of the SARC will record in the SARC Register of Interests any issues on which they might have a conflict or perceived conflict of interest. The SARC as a whole should consider how matters on which a member may have a conflict of interest will be handled.

11. SECRETARIAT

The Corporate Policy Unit of the Director General’s Office will provide secretariat services to the SARC. The secretariat will be responsible for ensuring compliance with procedures and maintenance of a Register of Interests. An agenda and papers will be circulated one week in advance of each meeting. A summary of action points will be sent to the Chairperson within three working days of each meeting. Approved action points will be issued to relevant staff within one working day of receipt. Draft minutes will be sent to the Chairperson within five working days of the meeting. The formal minutes will be posted on the Assembly website within three working days of their approval.

The Secretariat will prepare an induction pack for new members.

ANNEX B

INTERNAL AUDIT PLANNING: 2009/2010

Directorate / Business Area
Risk Score
2009/10
Budget
Timing
OFFICE OF THE CLERK
 
 
 
 
(1) Commission Support & Compliance Unit (CSCU)
110
 
 
 
  • Equality & Disability Scheme
 
 
 
 
  • Data Protection
 
X E
10
Oct
  • Freedom of Information
 
 
 
 
  • Records Management
 
 
 
 
  • Assembly Commission Support
 
 
 
 
(2) Legal Services
105
 
 
 
  • Legal Support to Secretariat
 
 
 
 
  • Legal Support to Members & Committees
 
 
 
 
(3) Examiner of Statutory Rules
90
 
 
 
(4) Corporate Policy Unit
135
 
 
 
  • Support to Management Groups & SARC
 
 
 
 
  • Corporate Planning & Risk Management
 
 
 
 
  • Internal Communications
 
 
 
 
(5) Speakers Office
120
X
20
Sep
PROPERTIES
 
 
 
 
(1) Building Management Branch
130
 
 
 
  • Provision and Allocation of Accommodation & Furniture
 
 
 
 
  • Building & Energy Management /Maintenance
 
 
 
 
  • Provision of telephones, voicemail, mobile telephones and fax machines
 
X E
10
Sept / Oct
  • Energy efficiency and recycling policy
 
 
 
 
  • H&S
85
 
 
 
(2) Facilities Branch
120
 
 
 
  • Cleaning
 
 
 
 
  • Catering
 
 
 
 
  • Porterage
 
 
 
 
  • Stationery & Repro
115
 
 
 
(3) Security
115
 
 
 
  • Security Services
 
 
 
 
  • Door keeping Services
 
 
 
 
CLERKING & REPORTING
 
 
 
 
(1) Business Office
105
 
 
 
  • Table Section
 
X
20
Oct
  • Plenary Section
 
 
 
 
(2) Bill Office
105
 
 
 
(3) Assembly Committees
115
 
 
 
  • Statutory
 
X
25
Jun
  • Standing
 
 
 
 
(3) Assembly Committees
 
 
 
 
  • Ad-hoc
 
 
 
 
(4) Office of Official Report / Hansard
100
 
 
 
RESOURCES
 
 
 
 
(1) Finance
130
 
 
 
(a) Members
 
 
 
 
  • Members Salaries
 
 
 
 
  • OCA
 
 
 
 
  • Travel
 
 
 
 
  • Petty Cash
 
 
 
 
  • Party Allowance
 
X
20
Oct
  • Faster Closing
 
X E
10
Sept
  • TSA
 
 
 
 
(b) Secretariat
 
 
 
 
  • AP1 Payments
 
X E
10
Oct
  • T&S
 
X
20
Jun
  • Procurement Cards
 
 
 
 
  • Petty Cash
 
 
 
 
  • Fixed Assets
 
 
 
 
(2) Human Resources
140
 
 
 
  • Conditions of Service
 
 
 
 
  • Salary
 
X
15
Nov/Dec
  • Equal ops
 
 
 
 
  • Managing Attendance
 
X E
10
Oct
  • Training & Development
 
 
 
 
  • Childcare
 
 
 
 
  • Business Travel
 
X
20
Jul/Aug
  • Superann/Members Pension
 
X
15
Nov/Dec
(3) Procurement
145
X
25
Jan
(4) Recruitment
125
X
25
Aug/Sept
(5) ISO
130
 
 
 
  • System Security
 
 
 
 
  • System Development
 
 
 
 
  • IT Infrastructure
 
 
 
 
ENGAGEMENT
 
 
 
 
(1) Research
90
 
 
 
(2) Library
95
 
 
 
(3) Media
130
X
20
Mar
(4) PPO
100
X E
10
Feb
(5) Education Service
90
 
 
 
(6) Events
90
 
 
 
(7) ELU
105
X
25
Feb
AD-HOC
 
 
 
 
SSRB – MLA EXPENSES
 
X
30
Jan
BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING
 
X E
10
Mar
USE OF CONSULTANCY
 
 
 
 
ASSEMBLY & BUSINESS TRUST
 
 
 
 

 

FOLLOW-UP AUDITS
    Budget Timing
EDUCATION SERVICE     5 June
GIFTS & HOSPITALITY     5 July
PAYROLL     5 Dec
MEMBERS PENSIONS     5 Dec
OUT-SOURCED CONTRACTS     5 Jan
SECRETARIAT TRAVEL & SUBSISTENCE     5 Jan
OFMDFM COMMITTEE     5 Feb
BUSINESS TRAVEL     5 Mar
FASTER CLOSING     3 Mar

The above plan is based on 2 auditors with 208 and 103 days available* respectively in the 2009 / 10 year, i.e. a total in-house availability of 311 days.

The total number of days allocated to Internal Audits and follow-up assignments is as follows:

  1. In-house team: 250 days on Internal Audit assignments plus 43 days of follow-up work.
  2. External supplier: 105 days on Internal Audit assignments.
  3. Days available for contingency: 18.

The requirement for external provision is anticipated to change in accordance with the timing of the appointment of an Audit Manager.

* This has been calculated to take account of public holidays, annual leave, maternity leave etc

ANNEX C

SECRETARIAT AUDIT AND RISK COMMITTEE BUDGET 2010/2011

BUDGET HEADING AMOUNT (£)
Committee members’ fees and incidentals
12,000
Mileage allowance
500
Airfares
1000
Car parking
100
Taxis
100
Subsistence (night)
500
Incidentals
100
Conference fees
2000
Refreshments
500
TOTAL
£16,800

ANNEX D

SELF ASSESSMENT OF THE ASSEMBLY SECRETARIAT AUDIT AND RISK COMMITTEE FOR YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2010

ROLE AND REMIT
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does SARC have written terms of reference?
YES
 
Do the terms of reference cover the core functions of an audit committee as identified in the HM Treasury Audit Committee Handbook?
YES
 
Are the terms of reference approved by SARC and reviewed periodically?
YES
The Terms of Reference were agreed by SARC on 23 April 2009 and by the Commission on 21 May 2009. These will be reviewed annually
Has SARC been provided with sufficient membership, authority and resources to perform its role effectively and independently?
YES
 
Does SARC periodically assess its own effectiveness?
YES
This is done annually
MEMBERSHIP, INDUCTION AND TRAINING
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Has the membership of the SARC been formally agreed by the Assembly Commission and/or Accountable Officer and a quorum set?
YES
The number of members and the quorum is scheduled for review at 31 March 2010
Are the independent members of SARC appointed for a fixed term?
YES
 
Does SARC have the appropriate skills eg does at least one member of SARC have a financial background?
YES
 
Are all members of SARC, including the chair, independent of the executive function?
YES
 
Are new SARC members provided with an appropriate induction?
YES
 
Has each SARC member formally declared his/her business interests?
YES
 
Are SARC members sufficiently independent of the other key management committees of the Assembly?
YES
 
Has SARC considered the arrangements for assessing the attendance and performance of each member?
YES
The appraisal system for the SARC was approved by the Assembly Commission on 11 November 2009 and advised to the SARC on 3 February 2010
MEETINGS
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does SARC meet regularly, at least four times a year?
YES
 
Do the terms of reference set out the frequency and broad timing of meetings?
YES
 
Does the SARC calendar meet the Assembly’s business and governance needs, as well as the requirements of the financial reporting calendar?
YES
 
Do SARC members attend meetings on a regular basis and if not, is appropriate action taken?
YES
 
Does the Accounting Officer attend all meetings and, if not, is he/she provided with a record of discussions?
YES
 
Do appropriate officials attend SARC meetings, including representatives from Internal Audit, External Audit and Finance?
YES
 
Does SARC have sufficient time to give proper consideration to its business?
YES
 
INTERNAL CONTROL
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does SARC consider the findings of annual reviews by Internal Audit and others, on the effectiveness of the arrangements for risk management, control and governance?
YES
 
Does SARC consider the findings of reviews on the effectiveness of the system of internal control?
YES
 
Does SARC have responsibility for review of the draft Statement on Internal Control (SIC) and does it consider this separately from the accounts?
YES
 
Does SARC consider how accurate and meaningful the SIC is?
YES
 
Does SARC satisfy itself that the arrangements for risk management, control and governance have operated effectively throughout the reporting period?
YES
 
Has SARC considered how it should coordinate with other management committees that have responsibility for risk management and corporate governance ie the Assembly Commission and the Secretariat Management Group?
YES
Independent Members of the SARC attend meetings of the Assembly Commission as observers Members of the Secretariat management Group attend meetings of the SARC as appropriate
Has SARC satisfied itself that the Assembly has adopted appropriate arrangements to counter and deal with fraud?
YES
Compulsory fraud Awareness training for staff has taken place
Has SARC been made aware of the role of risk management in the preparation of the internal audit plan?
YES
 
Does SARC’s terms of reference include oversight of the risk management process?
YES
 
Does SARC receive and consider Stewardship Statements from senior staff including those in key business areas such as Finance, HR and Information Systems?
YES
 
FINANCIAL REPORTING AND REGULATORY MATTERS
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Is SARC’s role in the consideration of the annual accounts clearly defined?
YES
 
Does SARC consider, as appropriate:
  • the suitability of accounting policies
  • major judgements made
  • large write-offs
  • changes in accounting treatment
  • the reasonableness of accounting estimates
  • the narrative aspects of reporting?
YES TO ALL
 
Is a SARC meeting scheduled to receive the external auditor's report to those charged with governance including a discussion of proposed adjustments to the accounts and other issues arising from the audit?
YES
 
Does SARC have an understanding of management's procedures for preparing the Assembly’s annual accounts?
YES
 
Does SARC have a mechanism to keep it aware of topical legal and regulatory issues? There is no formal mechanism but SARC members are kept aware of such developments through circulation of all DAO letters and information provided by external auditor and Assembly officials. SARC members also attend relevant training courses and conferences. SARC members attended the Chief Executives Forum workshop “Public Accountability for Members of Audit Committees” at Malone House on 20 May 2009.  
INTERNAL AUDIT
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does the Head of Internal Audit attend meetings of SARC?
YES
 
Does SARC approve, annually and in detail, the internal audit plans including consideration of whether the scope of internal audit work addresses the Assembly’s significant risks?
YES
 
Does Internal Audit have a direct reporting line, if required, to SARC?
YES
 
As well as an annual report from the Head of Internal Audit, does SARC receive progress reports from the Internal Audit service?
YES
 
Are outputs from follow-up audits by Internal Audit monitored by SARC and does it consider the adequacy of implementation of recommendations?
YES
 
If considered necessary, is the SARC chair able to hold private discussions with the Head of Internal Audit?
YES
 
Is there appropriate co-operation between the internal and external auditors?
YES
 
Does SARC review the adequacy of internal audit staffing and other resources?
YES
 
Are Internal Audit performance measures monitored by SARC?
YES
 
Has SARC considered the information it wishes to receive from Internal Audit?
YES
 
Do formal terms of reference exist defining Internal Audit's objectives, responsibilities, authority and reporting lines?
YES
The responsibilities of the Head of Internal Audit are defined in a letter of delegation from the Clerk/DG
EXTERNAL AUDIT
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does the External Audit representative attend meetings of SARC?
YES
 
Do the external auditors present and discuss their audit plans and strategy with SARC (recognising the statutory duties of external audit)?
YES
 
Does the SARC chair hold periodic private discussions with the external auditor?
YES
The SARC Chairperson meets with the Comptroller and Auditor General as appropriate and with the NIAO representative on SARC on a regular basis.
Does SARC review the external auditor's annual report to those charged with governance?
YES
 
Does SARC ensure that officials are monitoring action taken to implement external audit recommendations?
YES
 
Are reports on the work of External Audit presented to SARC?
YES
 
Does SARC assess the performance of External Audit?
NO
There is no formal assessment mechanism but SARC sees all of this work which is discussed openly and professionally with the Committee. Where there are any concerns that have not been resolved at operational levels these will be discussed between SARC and the NIAO representative on the Committee. It has never been necessary to escalate such issues above this level.
ADMINISTRATION
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does SARC have a designated secretariat?
YES
 
Are agenda papers circulated in advance of meetings to allow adequate preparation by SARC members?
YES
 
Do reports to SARC communicate relevant information at the right frequency, time, and in a format that is effective?
YES
 
Does SARC issue guidelines and/or a pro forma concerning the format and content of the papers to be presented?
YES
The SARC agreed the format of submissions as recommended by the Secretariat
Are SARC minutes prepared and circulated promptly to the appropriate people, including all SARC members?
YES
 
Is a report on matters arising presented or does the Chair raise them at SARC's next meeting? Action points in relation to issues discussed are circulated to all attendees following each SARC meeting.  
Do action points indicate who is to perform what and by when?
YES
 
Does SARC provide an effective Annual Report on its own activities?
YES
 
OVERALL
YES/NO/NA
COMMENTS/ACTION
Does SARC effectively contribute to the overall control environment of the Assembly?
YES
 
Are there any areas where SARC could improve upon its current level of effectiveness? The improvement of the awareness of SARC and its role

The provision of support the Clerk/DG to ensure that agreed Audit recommendations are implemented within the agreed timescale

The provision of advice in relation to the further development of Assurance Statements.

Reduction of the bureaucracy in some of the reporting/assurance systems.

Further refinement of MIS to help focus more on future issues and less on remedying past problems.

Support Clerk/DG in improving awareness and ownership of risk issues at all levels within the Secretariat.
 
Does SARC seek feedback on its performance from the Assembly Commission and Accounting Officer?
YES
 

ANNEX E

INTERNAL AUDIT PLANNING: 2010/2011

Directorate / Business Area
Risk Score
2010/11
Budget
Timing
OFFICE OF THE CLERK
 
 
 
 
(1) Commission Support & Compliance Unit (CSCU)
110
 
 
 
  • Equality & Disability Scheme
 
 
 
 
  • Data Protection
 
 
 
 
  • Freedom of Information
 
 
 
 
  • Records Management
 
 
 
 
  • Assembly Commission Support
 
 
 
 
(2) Legal Services
105
 
 
 
  • Legal Support to Secretariat
 
 
 
 
  • Legal Support to Members & Committees
 
X
15
Nov
(3) Examiner of Statutory Rules
90
 
 
 
(4) Corporate Policy Unit
135
 
 
 
  • Support to Management Groups & SARC
 
X
20
June
  • Corporate Planning & Risk Management
 
 
 
 
  • Internal Communications
 
 
 
 
(5) Speakers Office
120
 
 
 
FACILITIES
 
 
 
 
(1) Building Management Branch
130
 
 
 
  • Provision and Allocation of Accommodation & Furniture
 
X
25
May
  • Building & Energy Management /Maintenance
 
 
 
 
  • Provision of telephones, voicemail, mobile telephones and fax machines
 
 
 
 
  • Energy efficiency and recycling policy
 
 
 
 
  • H&S
85
 
 
 
(2) Facilities Branch
120
 
 
 
  • Cleaning
 
X
30
Nov
  • Catering
 
X
 
 
  • Porterage
 
X
 
 
  • Stationery & Repro
115
 
 
 
(3) Security
115
 
 
 
  • Security Services
 
 
 
 
  • Door keeping Services
 
 
 
 
CLERKING & REPORTING
 
 
 
 
(1) Business Office
105
 
 
 
  • Table Section
 
 
 
 
  • Plenary Section
 
 
 
 
(2) Bill Office
105
X
20
June
(3) Assembly Committees
115
 
 
 
  • Statutory
 
 
 
 
  • Standing
 
X
25
Oct
(3) Assembly Committees
 
 
 
 
  • Ad-hoc
 
 
 
 
CLERKING & REPORTING
 
 
 
 
(4) Official Report / Hansard
100
X
25
May
RESOURCES
 
 
 
 
(1) Finance
130
 
 
 
(a) Members
 
 
 
 
  • Members Salaries
 
X
15
July
  • OCA
 
 
 
 
  • Travel
 
 
 
 
  • Petty Cash
 
 
 
 
  • Party Allowance
 
X
15
July
  • Faster Closing
 
 
 
 
  • TSA
 
 
 
 
(b) Secretariat
 
 
 
 
  • AP1 Payments
 
 
 
 
  • T&S
 
 
 
 
  • Procurement Cards
 
X
10
July
  • Petty Cash
 
 
 
 
  • Fixed Assets
 
X
20
July
(2) Human Resources
140
 
 
 
  • Conditions of Service
 
 
 
 
  • Salary
 
X
15
Dec
  • Equal ops
 
 
 
 
  • Managing Attendance
 
 
 
 
  • Training & Development
 
X E
10
Feb
  • Childcare
 
 
 
 
  • Business Travel
 
 
 
 
  • Superann/Members Pension
 
 
 
 
(3) Procurement
145
X
30
Apr
(4) Recruitment
125
 
 
 
(5) ISO
130
 
 
 
  • System Security
 
 
 
 
  • System Development
 
X E
10
Dec
  • IT Infrastructure
 
 
 
 
ENGAGEMENT
 
 
 
 
(1) Research
90
 
 
 
(2) Library
95
 
 
 
(3) Media
130
 
 
 
(4) PPO
100
 
 
 
(5) Education Service
90
 
 
 
ENGAGEMENT
 
 
 
 
(6) Events
90
X
25
Feb
(7) ELU
105
 
 
 
AD-HOC
 
 
 
 
SSRB – MLA EXPENSES
 
X
30
Jan
BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING
 
X E
10
July
RISK MANAGEMENT
 
X
25
Sept
ASSEMBLY & BUSINESS TRUST
 
X
30
Sept

 

FOLLOW-UP AUDITS
   
Budget
Timing
OFMDFM COMMITTEE    
5
April
USE OF TAXIS    
5
April
BUSINESS TRAVEL    
5
April
TELEPHONY    
5
May
DATA PROTECTION COMPLIANCE    
5
May
MANAGING ATTENDANCE    
5
May
INFORMATION SECURITY    
15
Sep
EXTERNAL LIAISON UNIT    
5
Sep
SPEAKERS’ OFFICE    
5
Oct
FASTER CLOSING    
5
Oct
PAYMENT PROCESSING    
5
Oct
BUSINESS OFFICE    
5
Nov
PROCUREMENT    
5
Nov
RECRUITMENT    
5
Dec
GIFTS & HOSPITALITY    
5
Tbc
ASSEMBLY MEMBERS’ PENSION SCHEME    
5
Jan

The above plan is based on the draft submitted to SARC in April 2009 as part of a three – year programme which was developed following an extensive risk assessment of the Assembly.

The plan for 2010/11 has been amended to take account of the interruption to the 2009/10 plan caused by the investigation and several assignments, including payroll, procurement and facilities are now included in this year’s plan.

In addition the follow-up audits which were delayed, again primarily as a result of the investigation, will be carried out during the early stages of the year.

E – to be conducted by external provider.

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