Minutes of Senior Management Team (SMT) Meeting held on 14 June 2022 at 10am (Bradford Court)

In attendance:  Kieran Donnelly (C&AG), Rodney Allen, Chair (COO), Patrick Barr (Director), Neil Gray (Director), Colette Kane (Director), Brian O’Neill (Director), Suzanne Walsh (Director), Tomas Wilkinson (Director), Louise Donnelly (Secretary)






No apologies were recorded.



Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

There were no issues declared by members.



Minutes of Previous meeting and Matters Arising

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 May 2022 were agreed and the matters arising noted as updated.



Strategic Paper on Public Reporting

Patrick Barr presented a paper providing an update on the current position with regard to the Public Reporting Programme, the report also outlined future topics for consideration and thoughts on the future resourcing of public reporting.  All members agreed resourcing was key to ensuring the consistent delivery of the public reporting programme within the appropriate timescales.


Members discussed and agreed the proposed actions presented in the report and agreed, in the short to medium term, to explore ways to enhance the capacity and capability currently available within NIAO.  Going forward OMT will continue to monitor, review and focus on workforce planning to help ensure public reporting work is adequately resourced in the longer term.


Draft Annual Report, Accounts and Governance Statement

Brian O’Neill briefed members on the current position for 2021-22.  SMT was asked to consider the draft report presented and provide feedback to Brian O’Neill before 21 June 2022 when the draft will be considered by the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee prior to signing and certification by the external auditors.



Management Information Report

The interactive performance report detailing key performance outturns for the public reporting and financial audit programmes to May 2022 was presented.  Each member provided the C&AG with an update on the status of audits in the pre-summer recess period and the current position on backlog accounts.  The C&AG emphasised the need for continued focus on clearing the backlog.



Corporate Report

Brian O’Neill provided an overview on the current position with regard to Finance, HR and Business Support:



  • 2021-22 – Members were asked to note the current budgetary position and the draft figures presented for 2021-22 against the post January monitoring round Estimate figures.
  • Accommodation Project – Work continues on the refurbishment. The expected completion date is still on schedule for 15 July 2022 and costs are within budget.
  • IT - An upgrade to IDEA is taking place in the coming weeks and all windows 2012 servers are scheduled for an upgrade.


  • Recruitment - Recruitment for a Non-Executive Director is complete and a successful candidate has been appointed.   Recruitment for Higher Level Apprentices is currently underway.
  • Attendance Management - Members noted the absence figures per employee in the rolling period 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022, the focus of the Board on absence and the Board’s request for an updated position in September.
  • Performance Management - mid-year performance reviews have been issued to all staff for completion by 29 July 2022.
  • Pay Award 2021-22 - The Remuneration Committee met on 7 June 2022 to recommend a final pay award for all staff to the C&AG which has subsequently been issued to TUS.

Business Support

  • Members were updated on Complaints, Procurement, Legal, Information Management, Governance, Communications, the rebranding project and Assembly Liaison.



Technical Report

From the Technical Report provided Suzanne Walsh updated members on the following:

  • The Technical Team will attend OMT on 28 June to discuss the implications of RoFP in the 2022-23 year.
  • The ISA 315 project team is attending a workshop at the Audit Wales office in Cardiff at the start of July.
  • A meeting is scheduled with AFMD next week to discuss findings from the RoFP dry run process, along with other technical matters.
  • The project team will host an ISA 315 awareness session with directors and audit managers on 27 June.  The purpose of this session is to introduce some of the main challenges brought about by ISA 315 and get assistance from directors and managers in leading the changes required. In addition, the session will provide information that managers can disseminate to staff through subsequent team meetings.
  • Technical Partner Submissions – Directors were asked to encourage staff to submit as soon as possible.


Annual Assurances

  • Anti-fraud, raising concerns and Complaints statement – SMT noted the number and nature of cases.
  • Senior Management/NEM Expenses and Hospitality - SMT approved the disclosure for onward publication on the NIAO website.  Members noted that there was minimal travel and hospitality in the reporting period due to the COVID restrictions in place at that time.
  • ISQC1 Monitoring Report - SMT approved the report for consideration by ARAC.
  • ISQC1 Transparency Report SMT approved the report for consideration by ARAC and subsequent publication on the NIAO website.
  • Public Reporting – Quality Review Panel – the positive results were noted by members, the findings will be reported in the Annual Report and Accounts. 



Internal Audit – Assurance Statement

The overall opinion from RSMUK is that there is a satisfactory system of governance, risk management and control in place.  The report is currently presented in DRAFT as RSMUK are currently finalising the Follow Up report, but this will not change the overall assessment of “Satisfactory” assurance.   The final report will be available in time for presentation at ARAC next week.


External Audit

Brian O’Neill advised that the external audit is ongoing with no significant issues identified to date.


Risk Management

Corporate Risk Register

The Corporate Risk Register was presented by Colette Kane, changes were highlighted in red for member’s convenience. Members discussed the rating of risk one (Risk one: Failure to provide timely and high quality outputs to support and promote public sector accountability and improvement) and decided to keep the inherent assessment under close review in the months ahead.  OMT will continue to monitor and assess this at their weekly meetings.


SMT Self-Assessment Report

Following discussion on the results of the SMT self-assessment exercise it was concluded that the Team was performing effectively.  It was agreed that some suggestions for further improvement would be discussed with the new C&AG. 


Auditee Survey Returns

A full breakdown of results and responses was presented to SMT, an overview report will be presented to staff and audited bodies.  The C&AG and members welcomed the positive outcome and feedback received from the Survey.


Papers noted:

  • Advisory Board draft minutes of meeting held on 17 May 2022
  • Remuneration Committee draft minutes of meeting held on 7 June 2022




  • Date of Next Meeting – No meeting will be held in July, the next meeting will be held on 16 August 2022 @ 10am.
  • Rodney Allen advised that Chantelle Reynolds has been appointed as our Boardroom Apprentice by “Strictly Boardroom” following our offer to act as a host Board.


Rodney Allen noted this was the C&AG’s last SMT meeting and on behalf of members passed on sincere thanks to Kieran for his invaluable contributions as Chair of the meetings.  He personally recorded his thanks to the C&AG for his support over the last 15 months in the role as COO. Everyone present wished Kieran well on his retirement and looked forward to an opportunity to mark his retirement in the weeks ahead.  The C&AG thanked everyone for their kind words.