The key objectives of financial audit are to:
- provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements audited by the Office give a true and fair view, have been prepared in accordance with the relevant accounting and other requirements and are in accordance with the authorities that govern them;
- identify, assess and examine risks to regularity, propriety and financial control in audited bodies and report on significant weaknesses; and
- provide audited bodies with constructive advice to help them improve their corporate governance, financial risk management control and reporting
Financial Audit is conducted in accordance with International Auditing Standards issued by the Auditing Practices Board
The C&AG has access rights to certain bodies where she is not the appointed auditor. She uses these rights to bring any material matters to the attention of the Assembly. Such bodies include Housing Associations, Universities, Voluntary Grammar Schools, Grant Maintained Integrated Schools and other entities, such as Public Private Partnerships.
The results of the C&AG's financial audit work are reported to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Her report on each set of accounts is published with the accounts by the audited body. She also produces stand alone reports which are published as Assembly documents.
Copies of reports relating to our financial audit work are available on our Publications page.
Information Specific to Local Government Audit
The Local Government (Northern Ireland) Order 2005, as updated by the Local Government (Northern Ireland) Act 2014, provides that the Department for Communities (the Department) may, with the consent of the Comptroller and Auditor General (the C&AG), designate a member of NIAO staff as the Local Government Auditor. Once designated, this Auditor carries out their statutory and other responsibilities, and exercise their professional judgment, independently of the Department and the C&AG.
The statutory responsibilities and powers of the designated Local Government Auditor are set out in the 2005 Order and the 2014 Act. In discharging these, the Local Government Auditor is required to carry out their work in accordance with a Code of Audit Practice. The scope of external audit in Local Government is extended to cover not only the audit of the financial statements, but also the audited bodies arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources, as well as councils’ performance improvement responsibilities. The Code focuses on how the Local Government Auditor should carry out their wider range of functions and the audit of the financial statements is conducted in accordance with International Auditing Standards issued by the Financial Reporting Council
The Local Government Auditor can, if considered appropriate, make a Public Interest Report on any matter coming to notice in the course of an audit. In addition they can, if considered appropriate, conduct a Special Inspection of a local council in relation to its performance improvement responsibilities.
The Local Government Auditor is responsible for auditing:
- Local Councils;
- Joint Committees; and
- Other local government bodies.
The results of work undertaken by the Local Government Auditor are reported to the Members of Local Councils and local government bodies. The report on each set of accounts is published with the accounts by the audited body. They also provide an Annual Audit Letter to each body, which is also published by the audited body. In addition, a summary of key findings at each local council in relation to the improvement audits and assessments are published in the Local Government Auditor’s Annual Improvement Reports, which are available on this website.
The current Local Government Auditor is Colette Kane.
Value for Money Audit
Definition of Value for Money Audit
An independent evidence-based investigation which examines and reports on whether economy, effectiveness and efficiency has been achieved in the use of public funds.
The primary objectives of value for money (VFM) audit are to:
- provide the Assembly with independent information and advice about how economically, efficiently and effectively departments, agencies and other central government public bodies have used their resources;
- encourage audited bodies to improve their performance in achieving value for money and implementing policy; and
- identify good practice and suggest ways in which public services could be improved.
NIAO seeks to promote better value for money by highlighting and demonstrating to audited bodies ways in which they could make improvements to realise financial savings or reduce costs; guard against the risk of fraud, irregularity and impropriety; provide a better quality of service; strengthen and enhance their management, administrative and organisational processes; and achieve their aims and objectives more cost-effectively.
NIAO may carry out VFM audits in Northern Ireland Departments, Executive Agencies and other public bodies where the C&AG is the appointed auditor or has rights of access and inspection.
NIAO carries out VFM audits in local government bodies where the Local Government Auditor has a statutory authority to undertake such audits.
The results of the C&AG’s value for money work are reported to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee takes evidence from senior officials on our reports and, following consideration of evidence, reports its findings and recommendations to the Assembly. The Executive is required to respond to the Committee’s recommendations, specifying the action the audited body intends to take in response. The NIAO monitors the action taken and may complete follow-up studies and reports where appropriate. More information on the Public Accounts Committee is available on the NI Assembly website.
The results of the Local Government Auditors' value for money work are also published.
Copies of our reports are available on the Publications section of our website
Value for Money Audit Cycle
In general, each Value for Money study follows a similar cycle. Click here to go VFM Cycle for more information.