Falkirk Council auditors report published after whistleblower sparked enquiry

Falkirk Council auditors say they found no evidence of fraud after a whistleblower prompted an enquiry into alleged anomalies in procurement.

Falkirk Council Municipal Buildings
Falkirk Council Municipal Buildings

The investigation, by auditor Ernst and Young, was completed after an internal investigation by the local authority’s own staff came to the same conclusion.

However, both investigations also found that improvements should be made to some of the systems in place, and have made recommendations for changes to corporate fraud and procurement policies.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council on Wednesday, councillors heard that a number of recommendations have been made by auditors.

These include revisiting its investigation process "to ensure that the Council has fully complied with its whistleblowing policy and disciplinary processes and the initial procurement decisions are robust".

Tthe council should also "review authorisation limits for orders and invoices and ensure procurement arrangements ensure adequate segregation of duties".

The third recommendation is to ensure that contract monitoring arrangements demonstrate work performance and invoices are in line with agreed contract values.

Stephen Reid of auditors Ernst and Young said that they used their forensic specialist team during their investigation, which took place from December to February.

He told councillors: "We did find a number of weaknesses in key internal controls including segregation of duties and the financial monitoring of contracts and those did mirror a number of findings which council officers also identified."

While he was satisfied there was no direct evidence of collusion, he said they will undertake "additional targeted testing on procurement" in the next financial year.

He told councillors that they will also be following up to make sure that all recommendations included in the report are addressed.

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