Date: 19 November 2013
ISBN: Only available online
This is the end of session report of the Audit Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1st September 2012 to 31st August 2013.
The Audit Committee is a Standing Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly established in accordance with paragraph 10 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement and under Assembly Standing Order No. 58. The Committee has 5 members including a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson and a quorum of 2.
The Committee has the power to:
- exercise the functions mentioned in Section 66(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The Committee therefore agrees, in place of the Department of Finance and Personnel, the annual estimate of the use of resources of the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) and lays them before the Assembly; and
- table a motion in respect of the salary of the Comptroller and Auditor General Northern Ireland (C & AG).
The Chairperson of the Audit Committee also has a lead role in the recruitment of the C & AG (NI).
The Committee is appointed at the start of every Assembly mandate and has the power to send for persons, papers and records that are relevant to its enquiries.
The membership of the Committee is as follows:
Mr Danny Kinahan (Chairperson)
Mr David Hilditch (Deputy Chairperson)
Ms Anna Lo
Mr Dominic Bradley (1)
Ms Michaela Boyle (2)
1 with effect from 23rd April 2012 Mr Dominic Bradley replaced Ms Margaret Ritchie
2 with effect from 17th September 2012 Ms Michaela Boyle replaced Mr Paul Maskey.
NIAO Corporate Plan
1. Following consultation with the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Committee scrutinised and approved the draft NIAO Corporate Plan 2013-2014 to 2015-16.
NIAO Annual Report and Accounts 2012-2013
2. Having considered submissions from the independent external auditors and having examined the NIAO Annual Report and Accounts 2012/13, the Committee was content with this report.
3. The Committee agreed the estimate for the NIAO’s use of resources for 2013-2014 and laid the estimate before the Assembly. It did so having first consulted with DFP and PAC. The Committee scrutinised and monitored the NIAO’s expenditure at each of the monitoring rounds. A Committee report on the Estimate was published.
Appointment of the External Auditors for the NIAO
4. The five year contract with Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, as the external auditor to the NIAO, expired. In June 2013 the Committee held an evidence session with the Treasury Officer of Accounts to discuss the procurement process for a new external auditor. The Committee agreed that it wished to be involved in the appointment process.
Comptroller and Auditor General’s Salary
5. The Committee agreed that the C & AG’s salary for 2013/14 should remain frozen at its current level and that further to the outcome of the Government’s consideration of the SSRB review of the judicial salary structure, the Audit Committee should carry out a review of the options open to it for determining the C&AG’s salary in the future.
6. The Committee met four times during this session. All meetings were held in part closed session.
7. The Clerk attended a meeting of the Public Accounts Commission in the House of Commons on 12th March 2013 on behalf of the Committee. He was present for the Commission’s scrutiny of the estimate of the National Audit Office and met officials to discuss governance arrangements for the National Audit Office.
8. The Committee considered a Paper from the Committee for the Office of the First and deputy First Minister on the ‘Legislative Proposals for the Office of the Ombudsman’. The Committee agreed, subject to the necessary provisions and amendments to standing orders, to endorse the principle that the Northern Ireland Public Service Ombudsman should be treated in the same way as the NIAO. The Committee confirmed in principle that it would be content to undertake these functions. The Committee also agreed to endorse the proposal that the NIAO should be included within the jurisdiction of the proposed NIPSO.
9. Details of the Committee’s expenditure are shown in Annex A.
Expenditure for the period 1st September 2012 to 31st August 2013
Printing of committee reports
Report on the Estimate of the Northern Ireland Audit Office 2013-14
General Committee expenses