In praise of… internal audit
It’s always nice when someone follows through with a promise, so when a second guest post popped into our inbox entitled In Praise Of… we doffed our proverbial caps. Last weeks entry was really well received, so we hope this one goes down just as well! If you’ve got a guest post of your own that you think we might like you can send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, but have a wait until you’ve read this!
Before I go on with this post, I have an interest I need to declare, nay confess: I have worked in Internal Audit but only for 16 weeks. There, out of the system.
I wonder why I felt the need to do that though. The old gag goes that Internal Auditors are accountants who found life too exciting, though this is not a position I would take. Internal Audit suffers with a real image problem, that it is filled with old fuddy duddies, armed with green pens and clipboards who love nothing better than counting the cash in a petty cash float or pursuing a fraud investigation. In my experience, this stereotype is only partly true.
Internal Audit exists to support Councils to achieve their objectives by ensuring that their systems are being complied with. In a narrow definition, this focuses on financial and information technology systems, and you end up with annual audits of expenses, invoice payments and – your favourite and mine – control account reconciliations. I’m not saying that these are not required: they are and they do find a lack of compliance with systems from time to time.
The wider definition of Internal Audit, and perhaps one which would see them in Chief Exec’s Departments, has them considering the systems that the whole Council has in place to achieve its objectives. Some of this might be about managing absence but it is also about how teams or services are organised to achieve their locally agreed targets: this is a really interesting question and would certainly identify those team leaders who have teams focused on what is in the service plan. This is a new role for many auditors, and one that they are perhaps nervous about, as auditors like change as much as any of the rest of us do. However, they are unsung heroes and they perform a sterling role.
If I was ever to achieve a lofty position in a Council, I know that I would be looking to make sure that there was a very good Internal Audit team that I could get to help me achieve my plans and targets. They have so much to offer yet so many people keep them tucked away in a box, which is how some auditors like to be.
Internal Auditors of the country, we salute you, and thank you for your efforts, largely because it means that we don’t have to do your work. And yes, the saluting has been authorised, countersigned and a record made in the saluting register which will be signed off retrospectively by Members.
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