Effective commonsense tips

Many tools that bring focus, discipline, and planned effectiveness to a committee can be lost in the strategic conversations, or worse, responsiveness to sudden urgent issues. Here are some tips that help keep the committee on track:

Setting agendas

The purpose of the agenda is to guide the audit committee through items that need to be discussed. One person's observations were that too often the agenda:

  • is decided by chief executive with little or no consultation with the audit chair;
  • does not consider the matters that matter most to the audit committee;
  • does not consider all the matters required by the audit committee’s charter; and
  • includes items that do not belong on the agenda.

And thematic issues are often not tabled at the same meeting, when they usefully could be. 

Quickly fixing control weaknesses

Another person noted that an important role of the audit committee is to ensure timely remediation of any control weaknesses that the internal auditor has identified. Delays in addressing control weaknesses can expose an entity to reputational issues.

It is not the committee's role to fix the problem, but it is the committee's role to know how the control is being fixed and the consequences of the decisions around the control. 

The committee might also need to follow up to make sure the "fix" had its intended impact. Across the public sector, follow-up implementation and review has not always received significant attention (see our report, Reflections from our audits: Our future needs - is the public sector ready?).