Chapter 5: Communication and Reporting
Communication between the Committee and the Board
5.1 The work of the Audit and Assurance Committee needs to be effectively communicated. After each meeting of the committee a report should be prepared for the Accounting Officer and Board to:
- summarise the business taken by the committee, explaining if necessary why that business was regarded as important; and
- offer the views of, and advice from, the committee on issues which they consider the Accounting Officer and Board should take action on.
5.2 If the minutes of the committee meeting are used as the report, care should be taken in their presentation to highlight the advice being provided. These reports should be copied to the Head of Internal Audit and the External Auditor (especially if the report contains advice about or to the auditors).
5.3 It is important for the committee to have good relationships and communication with those it seeks briefings from, and those it provides assurance to. This ensures that it is effectively engaged with the organisation and able to fulfil its function. This should include where risks cross organisational boundaries, for example, in major projects.
5.4 The committee should provide an Annual Report, timed to support the preparation of the Governance Statement. This internal report needs to be open and honest in presenting the committee's views if it is to be of real benefit to the Accountable Officer and Board. This report is likely to be used by the Accountable Officer and Board in preparing their own report for publication in fulfilment of the reporting requirements of the Scottish Administration.
5.5 The Annual Report should summarise the committee's work for the year past, and present its opinion about:
- the effectiveness of governance, risk management and control;
- the comprehensiveness of assurances in meeting the Accountable Officer's and Board's needs;
- the reliability and integrity of these assurances;
- whether the assurance available is sufficient to support the Accountable Officer and Board in their decision taking and their accountability obligations;
- the implications of these assurances for the overall management of risk;
- any issues the committee considers pertinent to the Governance Statement and any long term issues the committee thinks the Accounting Officer and/or Board should give attention to;
- financial reporting for the year;
- the quality of both Internal and External Audit and their approach to their responsibilities; and
- the committee's view of its own effectiveness, including advice on ways in which it considers it needs to be strengthened or developed.
5.6 The Audit and Assurance Committee's report should take into account any other relevant assurance reports.
5.7 There should be mutual rights of access between the Chair of the Audit and Assurance Committee, the Accountable Officer, Head of Internal Audit and the External Auditor. Periodic discussions outside of the formal meeting help to ensure that expectations are managed and that there is mutual understanding of current risks and issues.