Minutes of Advisory Board meeting held on Monday 21 February 2022 at 10am

Members present: Martin Pitt (Chair), Noel Hyndman, Marie Mallon, John Turkington, Kieran Donnelly, Comptroller and Auditor General,  Rodney Allen, Chief Operating Officer, Brian O’Neill, Corporate Services Director

In attendance:  Francis Casey (Lead Communication Officer) – Agenda item 5, Joe Campbell (Audit Manager) – Agenda item 5, Kerrie Bingham (Whitenoise) – Agenda item 5, Mark Case (Whitenoise) – Agenda item 5, Corey Watson (Whitnoise) – Agenda item 5, Barry Mitchell (Audit Manager) Agenda item 8, Louise Donnelly (Board Secretary)


The Chair welcomed members to the meeting.             

1.     Apologies

        No apologies were noted.

2.     Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

        There were no issues declared by Committee members or attendees.

3.     Minutes of Meeting

        The Chair noted the minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2021 and notes from the workshop held on 18 October 2021 were agreed by all parties concerned.  The Matters Arising from the meeting were also noted as having been actioned.

4.        Report from meeting of Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC)

           Noel Hyndman provided an update to members on the ARAC meeting held on 25 January 2022 noting specifically the following:

  • A Risk Management workshop session for ARAC members took place on 18 October 2021 on the subject of risk appetite and risk management. 
  • ARAC took assurance from the policies and procedures in place to manage reputational risk.  Members discussed specifically risks concerning the use of social media.
  • The Corporate Risk Register Working Group are planning to commence an exercise on horizon scanning, the results of this will be reported to ARAC in due course.
  • Internal Audit have completed two reviews, Staff Welfare / Remote Working and Project Governance, both reviews received “satisfactory” assurances (the highest level of assurance).  Reviews of Key Financial Controls and Payroll are currently underway.

5.        NIAO Rebranding Presentation
The team from Whitenoise, Francis Casey and Joe Campbell were welcomed to the meeting.  Four concepts were presented to members for consideration.  The Chair thanked the team for the presentation and after discussion members agreed on their preferred concept.


6.        Corporate Report

Brian O’Neill provided the Board with a new Corporate Report noting this would be further developed for future Board meetings.  He gave an overview on the current position with regard to Finance, HR, Business Support, Audit Quality and Performance and asked members for comments on the content and structure of the report.  Members specifically noted the following:


Finance & IT

Members noted the current budgetary position and discussion followed concerning the projected year end position.


Accommodation Refurbishment Project

Members noted the target date for completion of 18 July 2022 and that the project remains within budget and on time.



Members noted the ongoing recruitment exercises and discussed the current position on staff sickness levels in relation to target and comparison to previous years. 


Business Support

Members noted the number of complaints, tendering exercises and recent Public Accounts Committee survey and recent report and recommendations by the NI Assembly Audit Committee.


Audit Quality

Members noted the current developments to enhance audit quality.



Members noted progress reported on some of the Key Performance Indicators presented and look forward to reviewing the position at year end in relation to the business plan.


Members welcomed the introduction of the Corporate Report to the agenda and suggested going forward a specific area is highlighted from the report and added to the main agenda for more in-depth focus and discussion at each meeting.  It was agreed that Attendance Management will be discussed at the May 2022 meeting. 


Brian O’Neill advised the Corporate Report will be enhanced to include a dashboard that will summarise the information presented.  Members welcomed this development and suggested the report would also benefit from the introduction of a RAG status for each topic, Brian O’Neill agreed to progress this with the team.


7.          Business Transformation Programme Phase 2 Update
A report to update members on progress was presented by Rodney Allen.  Discussion followed on actions that are outstanding, looking specifically at the ‘People’ and ‘Communication and Engagement’ pillars of transformation.  The Board noted the intention to refocus and reshape the programme later in the year.


8.           ISQM1 and ISA 315

Members noted the office is currently progressing two pieces of work to inform and enhance audit quality:

  • Quality Management; and
  • Development of new financial audit methodology. 


Barry Mitchell was welcomed to the meeting and provided an overview of the rationale for progressing this work and updated members on progress to date and the way forward.


The Chair thanked Barry for the presentation, all agreeing they found it informative and worthwhile.  Discussion followed on the resourcing of the work and the timescale for completion.


9.       C&AG Appointment

              The Chair updated members on recent developments.  The C&AG post has been re- advertised with a closing date for applications of 28 February 2022.


10.     A.O.B.

           Rodney Allen advised that a Board and Committee Member Induction Programme has been developed and that information on the programme will be emailed to members for consideration and approval.


The Chair noted this was Noel Hyndman’s last Advisory Board meeting and expressed thanks and appreciation from members and himself to Noel for his invaluable contribution as a member of the Board and as Chair of ARAC.  Noel thanked the members and explained how much he had enjoyed the experience and opportunity over the past three years.  The Chairman advised members that John Turkington will take up the post of Chair of ARAC.


11.     Date of Next meeting

      17 May 2022 @ 2pm