My Department has an Internal Audit function which is guided by the Institute of Internal Auditors Standards (IIA) which the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform determined should apply across all Departments and other Vote Holders (November 2012). These Standards require that a quality assurance and improvement programme be developed for the Internal Audit function which involves both periodic internal assessments and external assessments being carried out every five years. Guidance provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform requires that such an assessment should have been undertaken in 2017.
The Department's Internal Audit Unit completed an internal (in-house) quality assurance assessment in 2017 following the appointment of a new Head of Internal Audit to the Department on 31 July 2017. This in-house assessment suggested a number of areas that could be further strengthened to ensure full compliance with the IIA Standards and improve service delivery by the function. My Department was also part of a pilot study by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) into Internal Audit across a number of Government Departments. The findings relevant to the function issued to the Department on 26 July 2017. The findings showed Internal Audit in the Department was in general compliance with most of the key good practice requirements. These findings were accepted by the Internal Audit function and were responded to the C&AG formally by the Secretary General.
The Unit is currently implementing the recommendations arising from both the in-house and C&AG reviews and plans an external quality assurance assessment later in 2018. The planned external review is included in the Department's Audit Plan for 2018 which was agreed with my Department’s Audit Committee and the Secretary General. The timing of this external review will ensure that maximum value is gained from the exercise and aims to ensure that the Unit will operate to best practice, going forward, as well as compliance with the DPER/IIA requirements.