Decision details

External Audit - Interim Auditor's Annual Report on Lancashire County Council 2022/23

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No


Stuart Basnett, Senior Audit Manager at Grant Thornton UK presented the Interim Auditor's Annual Report on Lancashire County Council for 2022/23.


It was highlighted that:


·  The report was interim because the auditor could not provide their opinion until the 2022/23 audit of the statement of accounts was finalised.


·  Due to a weakness identified in the governance arrangements, a key recommendation had been provided relating to the implementation of Oracle Fusion. It was noted that since the end of 2022/23, management had responded to issues and implemented the required changes. In reviewing their report, the auditor encouraged members to consider whether they were happy with the council's response to the weaknesses identified.


In response to questions, members were informed that:


·  A project board for Oracle Fusion, chaired by the Director of Digital, had been established to respond to any continuing system issues. The board's work would enable lessons learned to be applied to future digital projects.


·  Oracle Fusion was used by lots of local authorities nationally, and the success of its implementation had varied depending on how complex each authority's requirements were. The council had commissioned external assessments relating to both governance and the system's technical aspects, to support the lessons learned process.


·  The Head of Internal Audit's overall opinion for 2022/23 had provided limited assurance, due to Oracle Fusion's impact on the council's control environment. The interim opinion for 2023/24 had improved to moderate assurance, to reflect the fixes implemented over the last year.


·  In response to Improvement Recommendation 3, a direction of travel had already been included in the latest Corporate Risk and Opportunity Register.


·  Regarding Improvement Recommendation 4, discussions were ongoing about revising the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal arrangements and at the appropriate point a decision would be taken by the Cabinet.


·  Regarding Improvement Recommendation 6, a report would be provided to the committee at a future meeting date, once information was available on the KPMG report being produced about the council's internal procedures.


Regarding management's responses to the auditor's recommendations, it was requested that the response to Improvement Recommendation 1 be updated to reflect the Scrutiny Management Board's responsibility for budget scrutiny and reviewing savings proposals.


It was also requested that a further report be provided to the committee at its next meeting on the outstanding issues and work areas relating to Oracle Fusion, the progress achieved to date, and the lessons learned from its implementation and external assessment. A separate report on other proposed benefits of Oracle Fusion could be provided later in the year.


Resolved: That


i)  The Interim Auditor's Annual Report on Lancashire County Council for 2022/23 be noted; and


ii)  A further report on the implementation of Oracle Fusion, including outstanding issues and lessons learned, be provided at the next Audit, Risk and Governance Committee meeting on 22 July 2024.


Date of decision: 22/04/2024

Decided at meeting: 22/04/2024 - Audit, Risk and Governance Committee

Accompanying Documents: