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Should councillors be copied into correspondence between the council and internal auditor regarding their employment?

0 votes
by (600 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
The Auditor works for the Council, not just the Clerk, so the Chair or the Chair of a finance committee should be closely involved in all aspects of the audit process.
by (44.2k points)
Firstly, the internal auditor is not "employed" but must be an independent contractor and must work to the guidelines contained within the JPAG (Joint Practitioners Guide) in order to provide the service required for the internal audit of town and parish councils.  As others have said, it is a whole council decision to engage a particular internal auditor which is usually done on an annual basis although many councils use the same internal auditor for several years before seeking alternative quotes (every three years in my council as consistency is useful).  The letter of engagement is likely to be a pretty standard format so I'm not clear why you think this is an essential for all councillors.  Is there a perceived problem with this particular auditor and/or relationship?
Let's go back to the beginning. I'm not clear whether or not your Council has appointed an Internal Auditor for the current year. Most will have done so by now, so this is an unusual time to be addressing this, unless your previous auditor's circumstances have changed. If you are appointing someone now, this must be a full Council decision, based on information provided to the Council by the Clerk and/or the Chair etc.

Your Council has employed a Clerk to deal with all correspondence, amongst other things, so routine correspondence with the Internal Auditor is the Clerk's responsibility. As ClerkinEssex has stated, there would normally be virtually no correspondence, so what has prompted your question?

Next summer, your Internal Auditor must sign a statement confirming that the Council has operated in full compliance with the relevant legislation and the Chair, on behalf of the Council, must sign a similar undertaking. There is very little room here for a Clerk to influence the proceedings.

Finally, a good Council functions on trust and respect, so any of my Councillors may see any item of correspondence received or sent at any time, without question, unless prohibited by legislation, in which case, they receive a verbal account of the matter.
If the internal auditor is not employed by the council, why is he/she paid by the council? Surely any payment for services rendered to a local government body confirms the contract agreed between two parties? Why should I not see a copy of the letter of confirmation? It is not a secret that this person/company has been employed by the council and paid for by its taxpayers. All correspondence sent out on behalf of the council should be made available to councillors who wish to see it, if it is sent under the instruction of the council. So much for openness, honesty and transparency.
In an ideal world, you'd be given access, but there is clearly an issue within your Council. What do you think this letter will contain and why is it so important to you to see it?

My Internal Auditor writes a letter to the Council at the end of each year's audit with observations about his work, which concludes with a statement that he'd be happy to be reappointed next year. We have a standing item at the annual meeting to confirm the appointment of the Internal Auditor and I send him a one-line email confirming that he has been reappointed.
Does your council have a policy of seeing all items of correspondence between the council and contractors confirming the (minuted) agreement to engage?
0 votes
Councillors need to vote to appoint the IA and that vote should be conditional upon demonstration - by the clerk most likely - that the Terms of Engagement for IA comply with the guidance set out in the Practitioners Guide.

Any letter of engagement sent from PC to IA should follow the guidance above - if you have any doubts just ask to see a copy
What’s the betting your PC hasn’t followed the guidance and so doesn’t want to reveal the engagement letter?

I have discovered the ALC endorsed IA in my region is a complete duffer that doesn’t even know the regs that an audit should be conducted under and is a complete waste of time and money
So much so that the IA report produced for 21/22 AGAR was 100% contradicted by PC assertions at AGAR.

When challenged, the response was pay the invoice or go SCC  I would have welcomed SCC but PC bottled it and paid invoice but they won’t be engaged ever again by my PC and any other nearby that is willing to listen to our lesson learned
by (6.9k points)
Thanks - where do I find a copy of the Pactitioners Guide please?
https://saaa.co.uk/guidance.html

Loads of good info links as above.
There’s a lot of nonsensical second guessing going on.
If you have a need to see an official document you are entitled to ask and should expect to be provided with it - without question, hindrance or delay.   You shouldn’t have to justify the need to a self appointed gate keeper.
I’ve recently required of a completely different PC a copy of their IA report which wasn’t published at their website.
The clerk wanted me to justify why I wanted it so that he could ‘discuss and decide’ with the chair if they would release it.
I let it go 19 working days then poked him with the wake up call that they have 1 day to publish or share or face an ICO non compliance.
It was published to their webpage that day.
Don’t give me your gate keeper nonsense - just treat everything as available unless, by exception, it is exempt.
Couldn’t be easier.
PS - practitioners guide is a really good read
This is a better link just noticed previous link is for smaller authorities.
https://www.nalc.gov.uk/library/our-work/jpag/3698-practitioners-guide-2022/file

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