The Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee Annual Report

Report to the Assembly Commission Year Ending 31 March 2016

SARC-Annual-Report-2015-16.pdf (586.39 kb)

Chairperson’s Foreword

I am pleased to present the Annual Report for 2015/2016 on behalf of the Secretariat Audit and Risk Committee (SARC). This Report describes how SARC fulfilled its role of providing support and advice to the Assembly Commission and the Clerk/Chief Executive in order to ensure sound financial and governance arrangements. In line with its policy of openness and accessibility, SARC Annual Reports and the minutes of SARC meetings are placed on the Assembly website.

During the reporting year, SARC provided support to the Secretariat in relation to managing risk and contributed to the completion process for the 2014/15 Accounts. In particular, SARC concentrated on assurances in relation to Members’ expenses, procurement compliance and the implementation of outstanding audit recommendations. SARC members met with the Independent Financial Review Panel in relation to the Panel’s proposals on constituency office expenditure. A “comply or explain” analysis of the NIAO Good Practice Guide on Conflicts of Interest was considered by SARC. The Corporate Risk Register was reviewed each quarter by SARC, and Directorate Risk Registers were reviewed in March. Management Accounts were also considered. SARC members completed a self-assessment template, based on the National Audit Office’s checklist for Audit Committees. We have added an element of external review to the assessment by requesting comments on SARC’s effectiveness from the NI Audit Office’s representative.

The draft Internal Audit Plan for 2015-16 was considered and agreed by SARC at its meeting on 3 April 2015. The plan was reviewed by SARC throughout the year in light of the Activity Reports received from the Head of Internal Audit at each meeting, and the programme, as amended, was successfully completed.

We have continued to see significant progress in the timely implementation of audit recommendations, as we maintained our effective system for systematically monitoring the implementation of all audit recommendations to clear timetables and targets.

I am pleased to report that the Secretariat has developed and maintained a strong culture of accountability throughout the organisation and wisely continues to use the Internal Audit function as a business improvement tool.

In these financially challenging times, I am pleased to report that we achieved all this within our allocated budget.

I am grateful to the Assembly Commission for its support and for allowing me to attend its meetings and to contribute to its discussions throughout the year. This has continued to be very helpful in providing a broader perspective for the work of SARC. The opportunity given to me to meet privately with the Assembly Commission to discuss matters pertaining to SARC has been particularly helpful.

I would like to thank Peter Weir MLA, who served as the Commission member on SARC until 18 May 2015, and Pat Ramsey MLA, who served from June to December 2015, for their valued inputs to the work of SARC. I am grateful to Sam Gardiner MLA for attending the SARC meeting on 22 March 2016. I am also grateful to Bernard Mitchell for his continued support and professionalism as the SARC Independent member

Finally, my thanks go to the Clerk/Chief Executive and the staff of the Assembly Secretariat for their commitment and diligence in providing SARC with the information necessary to achieve its objectives as well as very valuable secretarial services.


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