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ROLES OF AUDITORS

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Could somebody please detail the varying roles and coverage of a PCs internal and exterior auditors and if there are any specific criteria which need to be met when making a complaint.

I also understand that auditors can recommend on matters they consider to be in the public interest although I am told such things are as rare as hens teeth . Is there a definition of "the public interest" or is it left to the auditor's discretion.?

I fully understand that as with all "challenges" that they are, when push comes to shove advisory but it always best to formulate complaints "as required"
asked by (850 points)
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2 Answers

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The external Auditor (Mostly Private sector companies) can act on complaints made by electors if they relate to the Council' AGAR submissions (See https://www.pkf-littlejohn.com/sites/default/files/media/documents/2017-18_instructions_final.pdf)  whereas an Internal auditor  can't.   The purpose of internal audit is to "review and report to the authority on whether its systems of financial and other internal controls over its activities and operating procedures are effective".  Internal audits are supposed to be done by somebody independent  (But that is often a Parish Clerk from a neighbouring Council) and tend not to follow a prescribed process.  

answered by (9.6k points)
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The National Audit Office issues guidance notes to auditors covering the audit process and the matters such as those you have raised. In addition to providing guidance, these notes cross-reference the legislative paragraphs in the Local Audit & Accountability Act 2014 that contain the actual powers. Ask Google to point you in the direction of "Auditor Guidance Note 7 (AGN 07) - Auditor Reporting" and "Auditor Guidance Note 4 (AGN 04) - Auditors' Additional Powers and Duties". They should provide some clarity.

Public Interest reports are, as you will see, reserved for matters where the auditor believes that it is necessary for the public to be made aware of a serious issue with the accounts.
answered by (14k points)
Thanks Dave. I recall once speaking to an auditor and she described the PC audit regime as one of "limited assurance". I absolutely realise it is truly limited in its ability to raise issues other than lawfulness. Basically I believe this lax approach to accountability is there as an incentive to get people to volunteer to become Councillors. The problem is what can you do when people abuse this "privilege" . Very difficult.
I too have concerns about the internal audit regime. There are some very good internal auditors out there, but I see far too many examples of councils choosing their best friends, knowing that they will not ask the difficult questions. I also have documentary evidence of an internal auditor assisting a council in providing backdated evidence of compliance to avoid a negative report. I would like to see a national register of internal auditors who have undertaken compulsory training, but this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Can an internal auditor advise a Council on operational matters?
Yes, they can and in theory, the auditor should have an ongoing role throughout the year, although I have not worked with a council where this happens. NALC guidance notes sometimes refer to regular meetings, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this doesn't actually happen. Ultimately, it's a question of cost. Having your internal auditor at your side all year doesn't come cheap and may only be justifiable if there are complex issues that require an independent viewpoint.

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