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Understanding the SVP Internal Audit Function

SVP currently operate in a very challenging environment. Ac­cording to an Edelman Trust Barometer survey carried out in early 2016 less than half the general population of Ireland trust charities. This fact is compounded by recent scandals in the sec­tor and puts increased demands on the Society to demonstrate a robust control environment that has strong controls, compli­ance, and effective risk management which are all overseen by a good governance structure.

Internal Audit (IA) is a key mechanism to evaluate and report on the overall control environment thereby assisting the Nation­al Management Council (NMC) in its Governance role.

Internal Audit in the Society - What is it and where does it fit?
The SVP’s Internal Audit function has been in place over 10 years and has been developed to operate according to the best International standards. It provides objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value to the organisation and improve its operations.

IA reports to the National Audit Committee (NAC). This Committee comprises of four members who have a wealth of experience in audit, risk management, finance, legal and general business. The NAC is given its authority from the NMC, which allows IA to have full access to all available information on staff and members of the Society.

On a day-to-day basis IA reports to the National Vice President whose is responsible for governance.
The NAC tasks IA to complete an annual audit plan while also providing support and guidance where necessary. This plan is designed to enable IA , through the Committee, provide an annual assurance statement to the NMC on the overall state of the control environment of the Society.

What is the Annual Audit Plan?
The annual audit plan allows IA to assess the control environ­ment in the Society. It includes these main elements:

  • Standard Audit Review -- where activities across the eight regions are selected based on risk based criteria. The activity in question is reviewed to determine overall if the Conference is compliant with the Society’s policies and legislative requirements. Approximately 40 Councils/Conferences are visited per year, with actual visit time varying from a couple of hours to two days depending on the complexity of the activity.
  • Investigations -- where activities are highlighted to IA and particular matters are investigated.
  • Consultancy -- involvement in key Society projects designed to improve the Society’s control environment.
  • Collaboration with External Auditors -- information sharing and audit facilitation.
  • Management of Audit Issues -- working with activities to close any issues raised by both Internal and External Auditors.

Throughout the year IA review and report on trends, themes and issues of concern to ensure they are highlighted and man­aged correctly.

How can Internal Audit help you as a Member, Volun­teer or staff of the Society?
Traditionally IA was seen as something to be feared, a depart­ment that was there to point out faults or failings. This is 100% not the case. IA carries out reviews with the utmost profession­alism and commitment to high standards. Through the reviews issues are highlighted which are then addressed and remediated.

As the Society’s National Internal Auditor I see one of my key functions as facilitating members, volunteers and staff in carry­ing out the Vincentian work in a controlled manner that helps positive client interaction with the Society, allows high levels of donor confidence all while protecting their personal and profes­sional reputation.

I appreciate the high level of demands that are faced by Mem­bers, Volunteers and Staff. As part of this I am available where possible to provide advice and support on any queries Mem­bers, Volunteers or staff have in relation to Risk Management, Controls, Governance and Compliance.

If you require more information please contact John Tuohy on

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