The Auditor-Generals office in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has found that, in spite of having been told in November 2016 that it was able to have a proper audit, no proper audit was carried out.
In a report released on Tuesday, the office said that in its 2016 audit it had received information from the Government indicating that it had not completed an audit of the Northern Irish Auditing Standards Authority (NIAA).
In a letter to the NIO, the Department of Justice said that the audit of NIAA by the NRO was not undertaken due to a lack of funding.
It said that NIOA was asked to provide the Minister with the details of any auditing undertaken during the period March 2016 to October 2017, but the Minister did not provide the NIAAA with that information.
The letter went on to say that the Minister had not provided any information regarding the audit process by which the NRIA was able “to provide a complete audit report”.
The Auditor-generals office has also identified a number of issues that led to the lack of a complete review of the NRAA audit process, including the failure of the Secretary of State to provide any detail about the audit report, the failure to provide a full and detailed audit report and the failure by the Minister of Justice to provide an opportunity for the NRC to respond to a written query.
The NIO also pointed to the fact that there were significant delays in the NIROC audit process from the time the Auditor Generals office was first asked to audit NIATA until the last possible moment when it was asked by the Auditor General to provide its response to the Audit Office.
It also pointed out that a number OF the Audit Offices that provided information to the Auditor Genials office in 2016 were unable to provide full and accurate information on the audit by the time they were asked to do so.
The office said in a statement: “While it was hoped that the Auditor’s Office could have a thorough and independent audit of all the auditing work it performed, no such audit was ever carried out, and the Government did not respond to any of the questions asked by The Auditor Generates Office.
The auditor general report on NIOa found that there had been a number, however brief, of instances in which NIOs auditors did not have complete information about the work undertaken, the work carried out and the reports produced.
These included:The Auditor Generains office was informed that NIAAs audit report had not been completed and, therefore, there was no audit of its audit work.
However, there were no audit reports prepared by NIOAs auditors or the information provided by NIAas auditors on the work done.
The audit of Northern Ireland Auditing Standard Authority was completed in May 2017, although a report on this work is still being prepared.
The Auditor General also found that “the audit of a number auditing processes in Northern Ireland were not carried out” and, as a result, “no appropriate audit was conducted”.
In a statement on the report, Northern Ireland Secretary of state Theresa Villiers said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that NROs were unable or unwilling to complete an audit because of a lack or difficulty in securing adequate funding for the audit.
The Secretary of the Department for Northern Ireland has instructed the Auditor of State in charge of the auditors office to immediately start the audit.
“The NRO audit office is also examining how it is performing its duties in relation to the Northern Northern Ireland Audit Review Panel (NIRP), which the Auditor for Northern France and the Auditor in charge in the Irish Audit Office have both previously said is being used to review the audit processes of the Government.
The Office of the Auditor general is investigating the adequacy of the arrangements for conducting the audit and how this process has been managed.
In the letter, the NIRO said: The NIO Audit Office, in conjunction with the Auditor and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), will investigate how the arrangements and processes were followed for the Northern Auditing Authority (Northern Ireland Audit Authority).