The executives of the National Association of Internal Auditors of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) paid a courtesy call on the Management of the Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS) on Thursday 25th August, 2016. The meeting took place in the Conference Room of the LGSS.
Present at the meeting were the Head of Service (HoS), Dr. Callistus Mahama, the Chief Director Mr. Joseph M. Dasanah and other line Directors.
In his opening remarks, the HoS, said that, the LGSS had in the past hosted a number of meetings of such Associations and as a result, Management had established a vibrant working relationship with them.
Purpose of Visit
The President of the Association, Nana Yaw Adusei, a Principal Internal Auditor at Ejisu-Juaben Municipal Assembly said, the first major assignment for the new executives was to plan and organize the Association’s 2016 Annual Conference scheduled to take place in Cape Coast, the regional capital of the Central Region. He said, the courtesy call was therefore to inform Management of the Service of the upcoming conference and also to discuss a number of challenges faced by Internal Auditors which had been communicated to the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) and the Secretariat.
The following were some of the issues affecting officers in the Internal Audit Class:
- Inability to have chartered senior officers migrated unto the appropriate grades,
- Difficulty to have chartered junior officers also migrated to appropriate senior level grades,
- The lack of follow-ups on internal audits reports submitted to the IAA and the LGSS,
- The lack of financial motivation for Internal Auditors as in the case of Budget Officers,
- Issues of pre-auditing versus assurance work with the IAA,
- Poor working environment for internal auditors,
- Discrimination against Internal Auditors in the allocation of residential accommodations,
- The non-involvement of Internal Auditors in training programmes.
Advise to the New Executives
The HoS indicated that, Internal Auditors at the Regional Co-ordinating Councils (RCCs) and MMDAs were staff of the Local Government Service hence issues of Conditions of Service should be addressed to the employer (Local Government Service) and not IAA who is responsible for standards in the performance of their work. He advised the leadership of the Association to educate members on the need to follow due process and structures in seeking redress to issues of concern.
Clarification and Explanation on Challenges:
- Migration of chartered officers to appropriate Grades
A series of meetings involving the Secretariat, the Board of Chartered Accountants, the IAA and the Ministry of Finance had been held and agreed that remunerations of officers who had chartered should be brought at par with that of Controller and Accountant General Officers with similar qualifications.
- Feedback on Internal Audit Reports
The Head of Internal Audit at the LGSS provides feedback reports to individual Assemblies and also prepares composite reports for regional heads. Additionally, the new Local Government Bill seeks to make MMDAs the primary recipients of Internal Audit reports with copies to the LGSS and IAA which hitherto was not the case.
- Lack of Motivation for Internal Auditors
With the exception of Budget Officers, no other Class in the Service receives honorarium as alluded to by the auditors and this has a history. With the hive-off of the Local Government Service from the Civil Service into a new Service, budget officers in the Civil Service continued to receive honorarium for the preparation of the annual budgets whereas those in the LGSS did not. The LGSS therefore made a request to MoF on behalf of the Budget Officers in the RCCs and MMDAs and that had been honoured.
In terms of working tools, “Co-ordinating Directors have been adequately sensitized on the role of Internal Auditors with the hope that things would change for the better. Again, allocations of residential accommodation is based on the discretion of the leadership of MMDAs. The Secretariat has no involvement, however, Internal Auditors should not be discriminated against.”
Members of the Association were advised to use dialogue as a tool for redress rather than adversarial approach. The executives were tasked to educate their members to refrain from leaking information to the media.
- Non- involvement of Internal Auditors in Capacity Building Activities
“Despite efforts made by the Secretariat, the huge staff numbers in the Service makes it difficult for all staff to benefit from training programmes. The establishment of the proposed Capacity Support Fund is expected to make resources available in a strategic way that ensures that training goes round all categories of staff. Internal auditors will therefore be required to audit the system to ensure effective and efficient operationalization.”
Recommendations from the HoS
- Internal Auditors were to dialogue with key stakeholders of their respective MMDAs before the issuance of final audit reports and should also be pragmatic in their approach,
- The adverts on the LGSS website for Regional Internal Auditors would be amended to reflect the current qualifications in the system
- The executives of the association should communicate the 2016 conference date in time to ensure the Secretariat’s participation
- The executives should communicate clearly in writing their issues of concern for which they wish to seek redress from the Secretariat.
The HoS noted that the challenges being faced by auditors were due to the nature of their work hence there was the need to be patient and professional in the discharge of duties through exercise of the tenants of their profession.