Building Public Trust

Our first internal audit will be considered by our Audit Committee next week.

It is significant in many ways and not just because it is our first.

I learned about the role of an Internal Auditor during a module on Audit Committees and their financial oversight responsibilities.  This was part of the curriculum of The Directors College. I left committed to fully establishing an Audit Committee and introducing an Internal Auditor to City Hall.  This was an opportunity to add a resource that would support Council, the Chief Administrative Officer, the Chief Financial Officer and senior managers to execute their duties on behalf of the residents and businesses of Guelph.

An Internal Auditor moves beyond the reporting done by the External Auditor on the quality of the Financial Statements.  The role provides independent assurance to Council regarding the quality of the City’s operations. An Internal Auditor, in partnership with staff, is a catalyst for continuous improvement  promoting accountability and transparency.

Introducing an Internal Auditor was a commitment in my Inaugural Address in 2010. In late 2011, Council unanimously supported the new position with the full support of our new CAO. The position was filled and an Internal Auditor Charter was approved by Council in 2012.

While this is our first internal audit – it was not actually part of the first work plan.

We learned of a potential regulatory compliance issue late in 2012 with respect to fleet management. With our new in-house resources, Councillor Ian Findlay, Chair of the Operations and Transit Committee which is responsible for oversight of the Fleet Department, was able to refer the matter to the Internal Auditor for review. This is an excellent example of how the role of an Internal Auditor can support the organization to enhance transparency and accountability and build public trust.

It was also a challenging project to be our first. The matter was not confined to one service area or even one department. Rather it spanned many service areas and departments. It meant taking a little longer to complete to ensure everyone was well engaged in the process. There was a benefit for it being so far-reaching. Our organization lives and breathes regulatory compliance every day – that is our world. A great deal of provincial legislation and regulation informs our work. Consequently, we have a great deal of expertise in the organization in meeting our regulatory obligations and it was tapped to respond to this internal audit.

This is not easy work and I thank the management leadership involved for their work with our Internal Auditor. The report identifies 24 areas for improvement to ensure ongoing regulatory compliance.  Management has responded positively with an action plan to implement the auditor’s recommendations.

And the work doesn’t stop here. A follow-up audit will be conducted in one year to report back to the Audit Committee on the status of implementation of the recommendations.

This has been an excellent learning experience for staff to appreciate the audit process as a means of continuous improvement and greater efficiency. It is one way we can continue to deliver on organizational excellence, innovation and service value for our residents and businesses.

We have several other audits in the 2013 work plan.

For me – this is all about building public trust in the local government.

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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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