Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Barnet Internal Audit Report - It just gets worse!

Having ploughed my way through the 268 pages of the Audit Committee papers I have to say that I am utterly shocked by what I have read. On top of what I have already reported on MetPro, the Internal Audit Annual Opinion Report goes much further on the various shortcomings.
The overall internal audit opinion is only “limited assurance”, that is one step above no assurance. Hardly a vote of confidence. Set out below are just a selection of the findings and there are many many more. I will be very interested to see how Audit Committee members address such a catalogue of failures. At some stage the committee have to stop looking at the symptoms and start addressing the underlying causes.

•With the exception of Adults, the role and responsibilities of devolved procurement teams/officers are unclear.

•There is no process in place to ascertain the performance of devolved procurement teams and if/where these teams add value to the Council’s procurement objectives.

•There are not effective oversight arrangements in place to ensure that monitoring complies with Contract Procedure Rules.

•The Procurement Code of Practice (PCOP) has not been reviewed since June 2009 and there is evidence of out of date information within the document.

•A complete and accurate contracts register is not in place corporately.

•There were no formal contracts in place for all contractors of SEN meaning monitoring against identifiable and specified contractual obligations was not possible. This practice was outside of the Contract Procedure Rules.

•Key projects were put on hold to ensure that the Pothole Elimination Project went forward, the risks of these scheme’s not going forward within Footway Maintenance and Traffic Management were not assessed or measured for impact.

•The Waste Prevention Strategy has been ineffective in delivery of outcomes.

•There were no support Business Continuity Plans for IT provision and Accommodation (facilities) as required by the Strategy.

•Environmental Health Management have not carried out a full risk assessment as required under Section 18 Standard of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). Management do not consider that they have capacity to achieve full compliance will by the March 2011 deadline.

•The service did not have a signed contract in place with the provider of cashless parking.

•The Parking Service has had limited success at implementing its overall Strategy.

•Significant issues within financial planning arrangements due to the lack of forward planning, and robust recovery plans to resolve the current shortfalls in income levels.

•There were incorrect accounting for and depositing of VAT monies and there is not sufficient checks in place to identify shortcomings in the VAT collection and reconciliation process.

•The parking service did not properly understand or document how the contractor was following up on fraudulent credit cards used in cashless parking transactions.

•Adequate processes do not exist to ensure routine reconciliations of amounts collected with amounts banked.

•Management did not have a process for checking the accuracy of charges applied by the contractor on individual transactions.

•There were delays (in excess of target times) between when street light service requests were received by the Council (including through Fix-My-Street route) and when they were submitted to the contractor.

•The contractor failed to undertake a significant number of customer satisfaction surveys resulted in under performance, and the analysis of responses by residents to these surveys ceased in April 2010. Officers did not seek adjustment relief from the contractor in light of this.

•There is currently no overarching Information Services (IS) level plan in place. Furthermore, in most cases, the service level business continuity /disaster recovery plans are incomplete or out-of-date.

•There are at least three single points of failure located within the IT network that, if realised, may have a severe impact on the continued availability of the network.

•The grants database/register was found not to be complete, accurate and up-to-date.

•The grant conditions have not always been recorded and updated in the grants register.

•There is no common process at a corporate level to confirm compliance to the CRB requirements across all service areas.

•Some CRB procedural processes have not been fully complied with.

•Only limited site inspections are being carried out to confirm CRB arrangements within supply management in Adults Social Care and Children’s Services, no policy exists setting out the approach to those contractors not visited.


  1. Possibly the sort of Audit report that one would expect in a banana republic not in Barnet; when will the Officers & Councillors wake up and realise that the One Barnet emporer has no clothes ?

  2. What is the definition of the "Waste Prevention Strategy" please (if you know) ?

  3. Waste Prevention Strategy is about recycling and reducing household waste. You can find a copy here: http://www.barnet.gov.uk/waste-prevention-strategy2005-2020.pdf