Financial Services

Accountability Policy

Further information


Contact:

Manager, GL & Assets Team 

Adequate audit trails and source documentary evidence must be maintained at the point of origin to support all financial transactions for which the Faculty/School or Central Administration areas, including the associated Service Delivery Centres, is responsible.

Policy statement

Audit trails

A major part of the work of the Internal Audit Group is to examine evidence which will visually demonstrate the transaction flow, from beginning to end, and any accompanying control/procedural performance. This is why audit trails are important.

Audit trails are a necessary and demonstrable component of accountability. When performing a University-sanctioned act which either has or can have financial consequences (direct or indirect), each staff member must ensure they prepare, obtain and retain documentary evidence of the transaction flow/event to facilitate future follow-up, inquiry or audit of the process.

There are also other advantages arising from documentary retention, such as:

  • It provides a time-saver in the event of future audit and other inquiries as relevant information will be readily available thus reducing staff effort in locating documentation.
  • It reduces or removes the need for formalised audit query and management responses.
  • It serves to remove suspicion where doubt is cast over the performance of proper practice.
  • It represents good record-keeping practice.

Financial officers should retain all documentary evidence regarding financial transactions in order to establish audit trails that will provide the history of and authorisation for expenditure and income into the University. Such documents should appear in English. These documents should be kept in good condition in suitable storage which is readily accessible.

Finance Manual

It is expected that the University's financial policies, procedures and guidelines will be maintained in an up-to-date, easily accessible form to facilitate an auditable and controlled financial framework. The Internal Audit Charter section on Activities allows Internal Audit to appraise the effectiveness of the University to discharge the functions and duties conferred or imposed on the University by any Act or law. Internal Audit is required to ascertain the compliance with established policies, plans and procedures, and determine whether these are effective in securing their intended purpose.

Internal Audit carries out these instructions by assessing actual information against documented policies, plans and procedures. Such documentation is usually in the form of a Finance Manual. Any anomalies between practice and documented policies, plans and procedures are duly investigated by Internal Audit and where necessary reported upon.

It is also expected that the University will facilitate awareness within Faculties/Schools/Areas of the University's financial policies, procedures and guidelines and provide advice on the implications of any diversions from these policies, procedures and guidelines. Financial Services retains the responsibility for the maintenance of appropriate, officially endorsed and up-to-date financial information, training and guidance on the use of the Finance Manual.

Schools/Areas are responsible for ensuring staff responsible for financial matters are familiar with the contents of the Finance Manual and liaise with Financial Services on any policy which is unclear. Schools/Areas are also responsible for implementing any necessary procedures and processes as necessary to adhere with audit requirements.

Deviation from standard practice

It is also expected that any diversion from University policies, procedures and guidelines is fully documented and duly authorised by the Head of School or authorised delegated officer. The aim of formally approved University policy, procedure and guideline documentation is to provide a centralised, recognised and up-to-date source of information to facilitate a consistent approach to accepted practice/performance throughout the University's financial operations.

Any unauthorised deviation from officially endorsed practice (as documented) could lead to a greater risk of error, omission, inappropriate behaviour, misappropriation, theft and fraud. Auditors use the University documentation as their code of practice to assess officially sanctioned practice against actual practice. Where deviations are noted, Internal Audit would expect the deviation to be properly justified, approved and documented.