Are you making the most of audit committees?
Some organisations choose (or are required) to establish a group of advisers to give advice to, and test and challenge, the highest level of governance.
Some of these groups of advisers focus on making sure that the financials are in shape for auditing. Others focus on risk. Some do both. For simplicity's sake, we call these groups “audit committees”.
Audit committees can help governors test and challenge new ideas as well as business-as-usual operations to ensure that the entity is improving, as well as meeting expectations.
Through our role as auditor of all public entities, we interact with audit committees a lot. We speak to many people involved with audit committees who tell us about the issues, challenges, and risks of making these committees work in a public sector context. There can be differences between public and private sector audit committees.
Most people tell us that the main challenge in making audit committees work is the dynamic nature of people and organisations – such as changing structures, mandates, capability, capacity, and measuring frameworks. They tell us that there is not necessarily a “best practice” way of solving the issues that audit committees in the public sector face. Solving issues requires experience, judgement, perspective, and knowledge of the context. What helps are discussions with people in similar situations and knowing how others manage similar issues, risks, and opportunities.
We have created this resource to provide a place for sharing experiences, tips, tools, and other insights. Have a look at what we have put together if you want to know what others are doing, find answers to some of your questions, or just learn more about making audit committees effective. We have grouped the material into five parts:
- Why have an audit committee?
- Principles that help an audit committee add value
- Know your environment: Issues, challenges, and risks commonly being experienced
- What works: Tools and tips for making the most of audit committees
- Experiences to share
Have you got suggestions that you would like to share? We welcome you to share these with us through our Public Sector Audit Committees group on LinkedIn or by email. We intend to update this resource with new information we receive.
We would like to thank the governors, public servants, organisations, and others who have helped us create this resource through sharing their experiences.