Northern Ireland Audit Office

Northern Ireland Audit Office


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Northern Ireland Audit Office Section 75 Screening Report NIAO Screening Report 1. Introduction 1.1 As a designated public authority for the purposes of section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO), in carrying out its functions, powers and duties, must: (1) have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity between: • persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation; • men and women generally; • persons with a disability and persons without; and • h dependants and persons without; and (2) without prejudice to the above obligation, have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group. 1.2 The NIAO Equality Scheme, which arises out of the implementation of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and was approved by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland in November 2003, sets out how the Office intends to carry out its section 75 duties. In relation to the requirement to assess the impact of its policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity, the NIAO Equality Scheme states that the Office will: “carry out a systematic review of all its existing and proposed policies to determine whether there are any equality of opportunity implications ….. and whether any should be subject to an ...



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               Northern Ireland Audit Office  Section 75 Screening Report  
NIAO Screening Report 1. Introduction  1.1 As a designated public authority for the purposes ofn  s7e5c tioof the Northern Ireland Act 1998, the Nortrhn eIreland Audit Office I(ANO), in carrying out its functions, powers and duties, must:  (1) have due regard to et hneed to promote equya liotf opportunity between:   persons of different reliugsi obelief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation;  men and women generally;  persons with a disabiliatny d persons without; and  persons with dependanatnsd persons without; and  (2) without prejudice to thaeb ove obligation, have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between opnesr sof different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.  1.2 The NIAO Equality Scheme, which aroisuet so f the implementitoan of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and awpapsr oved by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland ino vNember 2003, sets out howe  tOhffice intends to carry out its section 75 duties. In relationthteo requirement to assess the impact of its policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity, the NIAO Equality Scheme states that the Office will:   carry out a systematic review of itas l  existing and proposed policies to determine whether there are any equaolfi toy pportunity implications .  and whether any should be subjec ta tn oEquality Impcat Assessment.”  An Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) tihs oar ough and systematic analysis of a policy (or group of policietso)  determine the extent  doi f ferential impact upon the section 75 groups.  If an adverse icmt pisa identified, mitigating measures and alternative policies whh imcight better achieve theo mprotion of equality of opportunity shoulbde considered.  1.3 A review of all NIAO policies has  buenednertaken.  This report sets out:   some background on the raolned  objectives of the NIAO; the screening process (the procedure for examining each policy for impact o  equality of opportunity);  the policies screened; and  the results of screening in terms oef twhher any policies should be subjected to the EQIA procedure.   1
NIAO Screening Report  2. Role and objectives of the NIAO  2.1 NIAO has a staff complement of uanrdo 145. It is whlloy independent of government and does not provide ar visc e  directly to the public. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AwGh)o,  is head of the NIAO, undertakes the external audit of central government bodies in Northern Ireland and report the results of his work  t ohe Northern Ireland Assembly, and to Parliament during the suspension dofe volution. Certain NIAO staff are designated by the Department of the Environment as lgoocavle rnment auditors. Local government auditors are mainly respobnles ifor the audit of North eI r neland District Councils and report the results tohf eir work to the Departnmt eof the Environment.  2.2 The strategic objecetisv of the NIAO are to:  (1)  provide effective support to Pamrleinat/the Northern Ireland Assembly in its task of holding Northern Ireladnedp artments, executive agencies and other public bodies to accofuonrt  their use of public money;  (2) provide effective local gover n t meaudit to the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland;  (3) provide support to Northern Ireland public sector bodies in their pursuit o improved financial reporting and ev aflour money, inuclding support for efforts to combat public sector fraud;  (4)  meet the requirements placed oen  Otfhfice by legislation (principally, the Audit (Northern Ireland) Order 1987; the Northerann Idr eAlct 1998; the Government Resources and AccouAnctts  (Northern Ireland) 2001; and the Audit and Accountability (tNhoe r n Ireland) Order 2003); and  (5) value staff and devpel toheir full potential.  2.3 NIAO operates to preosfsional auditing standards. Well established audit methodologies are applied to guard atg a i n ys bias in NIAO investigations and reporting.  2.4 Further information about the NIAO, and a copy of the NIAO Equality Scheme, can be found on the NIAO website w a w t .  u   k        2
NIAO Screening Report 3. Screening Process  3.1 NIAO identified all poelisc,i written and unwritten. t Ihte n considered the impact of each policy or group of policies on leitqyu aof opportunity in terms of the nine categories listed in Section 75 of Nthoert hern Ireland Act 1998 to determine whether any policies shoubled  subject to an equality impact assessment. This involved reaching a decisi o n  whether each policy  go r oup of policies should be:   ‘screened in’ - if it had (or was likely to have) a significant impact on equalit of opportunity and ogdo relations; or   screened out of the cpreoss - if it did not have any significant impact on equality of opportuniatynd good relations.  3.2 The following screening criiat ewrere applied to policies:   Is there any evidence of higher or lro pwaerticipation or uptake by different groups?  Is there any evidence thdaiftf erent groups have drifefent needs, experiences, issues and priorities in reolan tito the particular policy?  Have consultations with relevant gr,o uorpgsanisations or individuals within groups indicated that particular pso li c ri e ate problems that are specific to them?  Is there an opportunity to better promote equality of opportunity or better community relations by altering tphoeli cy or working with others in government or the cmomunity at large?  If the answer to any otfh ese was positive, consiadteiorn was given to whether to subject the policy identified to etqhue ality impact assessment procedure.    3.3 The process invoeldv consultation with section 75 groups.  3.4 The overall exercise was informed bboyth quantitative and qualitative information.      4. Policies screened  4.1 The following policies, which cover audit and all other activities of the Office were screened:  Financial Audit  (1) Audit of financial statements of public sector bodies (2) Contracting out financial audit work  3