Audit and Assurance committee handbook

Guidance on the principles and best practise for the organisation of Audit and Assurance committees.

Chapter 3: Skills

The committee should corporately own an appropriate skills mix to allow it to carry out its overall function.

Range of skills

3.1 The committee is charged with ensuring that the Board and Accountable Officer of the organisation gain the assurance they need on risk management, governance and internal control. So, it needs a range of skills and experience relevant to various aspects of risk, governance and control. A competency framework for an Audit and Assurance Committee is at Annex G.

3.2 Because of the importance of financial management and financial reporting to every organisation, at least one member of the committee should have recent and relevant financial experience. This experience should be sufficient to allow them to engage competently with financial management and reporting in the organisation, and associated assurances.

3.3 The committee should identify, and agree with the Board and Accountable Officer, the other skills required for committee effectiveness. These identified skills should inform the choice of members of the committee. The required skills set should be periodically reviewed.

3.4 Although Audit and Assurance Committee members are recruited for their individual skills, it is vital that they are able to work collaboratively.

Additional skills

3.5 The committee should be empowered to either:

  • co-opt members for a period of time (not exceeding a year, and with the approval of the Board and/or Accountable Officer) to provide specialist skills, knowledge and experience that the committee needs at a particular time; (Co-opted members may be remunerated at an appropriate rate for the time and effort they are expected to contribute); or
  • procure specialist advice at the expense of the organisation on an ad-hoc basis in order to support in relation to particular committee business. Budgets for such procurement should be approved by the Board and/or Accountable Officer.

Training and development

3.6 All committee members, whatever their status or background, will have training and development needs. Those who have recently joined the Audit and Assurance Committee will need induction training, either to help them understand their role; or if they have Audit and Assurance Committee experience elsewhere, to help them understand the organisation. In particular, those joining a public sector Audit and Assurance Committee for the first time will need training to help them understand public sector standards, especially those relating to governance and accountability and internal audit (PSIAS).

3.7 The Chair should, in addition, ensure that all committee members have an appropriate programme of engagement with the organisation and its activities to help them understand the organisation, its objectives, business needs, priorities and risk profile. Consideration should be given to underpinning such programmes with training and/or learning plans.



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