Press Release - Effectiveness of Audit Committees in State Bodies

The Comptroller and Auditor General has completed a special report on the effectiveness of audit committees in State bodies. The report has been presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas today, 21 October 2014.

Scope of Report

The examination reviewed the operation of audit committees in a sample of non-commercial State bodies. Audit committees of commercial State bodies and of government departments and offices were excluded from the scope.

Main Findings

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (the Department) is responsible for developing and issuing guidance to State bodies on corporate governance.

The current corporate governance requirements for Irish State bodies are set out in the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, last updated in 2009. This includes requirements in respect of the composition and operation of audit committees. A comparison with good practice principles showed that the Code of Practice contains only basic requirements. With one minor exception, the selected non-commercial State bodies were found to be complying with the Code of Practice requirements in relation to audit committees.

In addition, it was found that the selected audit committees have already incorporated many features of good practice. Key areas identified where good practice is generally not being followed include:

  • the use of formal selection criteria and standard letters of appointment for new audit committee members
  • identifying and recording conflicts of interest
  • performance appraisal for committee members, including the chair
  • measuring the effectiveness of audit committees.

Recommendations

The report includes recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of audit committees in State bodies.

    Notes for Editors

    The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds. He reports to Dáil Éireann.