The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a guide to help audit and risk committees of government departments and arms-length bodies advise their organisations on financial management and reporting during, and in the period immediately after, the Covid-19 outbreak
The audit watchdog says every organisation will have existing risk management processes in place, but risk appetite may have changed as a result of the pandemic, in order for the organisation to operate effectively and respond in a timely manner. This may result in a weakening of controls in some areas, increasing the likelihood of other risks occurring, and organisations will need to consider how long this change in risk appetite is sustainable for.
The aim of the NAO guide is to help audit and risk committee members discharge their responsibilities in several different areas, and to examine the impacts on their organisations of the Covid-19 outbreak, including on annual reports; financial reporting; the control environment; and regularity of expenditure.
Each section of the guide sets out some questions to help audit and risk committee members understand and challenge activities. Each section can be used on its own, although the NAO recommends that audit and risk committee members consider the whole guide, as the questions in other sections may be interrelated.
The guide may also be used as organisations and audit and risk committees consider reporting in the 2020-21 period when more specific and detailed reporting on the outbreak will be required.