Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 27 June 2011

Venue: Room 106

1. APOLOGIES

1.1 No apologies were received.

2. DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

2.1 In relation to Procurement, the Chair declared that he has been involved in advising a party in a major litigation case relating to a Government tendering process.

3. MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS

3.1 The minutes of the SARC meeting held on 1 June 2011 were approved without amendment.

4. MATTERS ARISING

4.1 SARC members noted that the action at Paragraphs 5.22 was completed and that matters raised at paragraphs 4.1, 5.15, 5.21, 10.1, 10.2 were on the agenda.

4.2 Paragraph 13.1

The Chair advised that the SARC Annual Report 2010-11 has been finalised and will be presented to the Assembly Commission on 28 June 2011.

4.3 Paragraph 14.1

Paula McClintock informed SARC that work was ongoing in relation to examining “mismatches” identified through the National Fraud Initiative. SARC members requested an update at the next meeting of SARC.

ACTION: PAULA McCLINTOCK

5. ASSEMBLY RESOURCE ACCOUNTS 2010-11

5.1 Paula McClintock reported that the Accounts figure work remained unchanged but that presentational changes had been made to the text to incorporate suggestions made by NIAO at the 1 June meeting of SARC.

5.2 Paula McClintock advised that there had been a mixed response in relation to the returns required for the Accounts relating to Financial Assistance to Political Parties (FAPP). Pat Ramsey suggested that, in future, the Finance Office should meet with the relevant officers of the Political Parties well in advance to ensure that they know what information is required and when it is required.

ACTION: PAULA McCLINTOCK

5.3 Trevor Reaney advised that the Assembly Commission had requested a review of FAPP in the next year and a refined specification could be factored in to the review; this would be helpful to the Parties’ auditors and to the Assembly Secretariat. The Chair undertook to mention at the Assembly Commission meeting on 28 June 2011 the need for compliance in terms of the delivery of assurances by Party auditors.

ACTION: ALAN McQUILLAN

5.4 Stephen McCormick outlined a number of issues arising from the accounts

that NIAO would be considering further. Trevor Reaney advised SARC members that the procurement compliance report was being finalised to tie in with the signing of the accounts. SARC members requested that the report be emailed to them as soon as it became available.

ACTION: TREVOR REANEY

5.5 Followingdiscussion, SARC members recommended that the Clerk/Director General should sign the Resource Accounts on 28 June 2011.

ACTION: TREVOR REANEY

5.6 The SARC Chair and the Clerk/Director General thanked theSecretariat and NIAO staff involved for delivering the accounts to timetable.

6. AUDIT RECOMMENDATIONS UPDATE

6.1 Brian Moreland provided SARC with a detailed breakdown of 26 outstanding audit recommendations, as requested at the 1 June SARC meeting. SARC members considered these in detail and noted that a number of recommended actions had been completed, while others were close to completion. Trevor Reaney advised SARC that Directors had been tasked with completing the exercise in the near future.

7. INTERNAL AUDIT REPORT: NI ASSEMBLY & BUSINESS TRUST (NIABT)

7.1 Brian Moreland reported that, because of budgetary and financial management issues, this report had a “Limited” level of assurance. However, all the recommendations had been accepted by management and are being implemented. SARC members were clear on the merits of NIABT but stressed the need for good governance and controls, and they welcomed the Secretariat’s move towards a zero cash contribution, with an in-kind contribution of one member of staff.

8. PROCUREMENT / CONTRACT MANAGEMENT

8.1 SARC members acknowledged the difficulties being encountered in relation to procurement throughout the public sector. The SMG programme, supported by SARC, of improving Secretariat procurement, reducing risks and enhancing processes was noted. Members were updated on, and discussed the detail of, ongoing procurement and contract management issues in the Secretariat.

8.2 In relation to issues raised by an unsuccessful bidder, the Chair is to meet with the Head of Internal Audit to finalise a response.

ACTION: ALAN McQUILLAN

8.3 In relation to progressing matters raised by a whistleblower, Pat Ramsey MLA undertook to check whether the individual would be prepared to discuss matters with the Head of Internal Audit, NIAO or the Chair of SARC.

ACTION: PAT RAMSEY

8.4 Brian Moreland advised SARC that the follow-up audit on Procurement had a “Limited” assurance rating, but if the recommendations are implemented the rating would increase. Trevor Reaney advised SARC that the report had issued on 23 June 2011 and he would be instructing Directors to have the remaining recommendations signed off in the near future.

ACTION: TREVOR REANEY

8.5 Stephen McCormick suggested that Procurement and Contract Management should continue to be included in Internal Audit’s forward work plan; the exact timing is still to be decided, but possibly in Quarter 1 of 2012/13 to allow changes resulting from the follow-up audit (paragraph 8.4 above) to take effect.

ACTION: BRIAN MORELAND

8.6 In relation to a forthcoming procurement exercise, Stephen McCormick suggested that the Assembly should use a Procurement expert to quality assure the process.

ACTION: STEPHEN WELCH / RICHARD STEWART

9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

9.1 There was no other business.

10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING

10.1 It was agreed that the next meeting of SARC would take place in

September 2011

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