Thought I’d round off the interim assignment feedback on my time as Audit Manager for the shared internal audit service in Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough Councils.
I finished with them, as agreed, at the end of July, and as I write the new Manager should have started. I was lucky enough to be invited to sit in on the interview process for my substantive replacement, and in my humble opinion they made an excellent choice.
I think we (and I stress the we) made a real start in setting up a true shared service within the two councils. We learnt a lot about what it takes to make a shared service work (vision, strategy, buy-in from both senior management teams, logistics of IT, accommodation, audit approach, charging and accounting arrangements). We also learnt a lot about creating one team where there had been (at least) two, and about inspiring confidence for the challenges ahead amongst those in the team. I think we began to release enterprise, ambition, and desire amongst some; and if we are honest began to challenge one or two people to reflect on their skills, and their performance.
More than all of that we also re-positioned Internal Audit, and its plan and its offer, at the core of the governance processes of both Councils, with a relevance to their future challenges and risks that Internal Audit hadn’t had in the preceding years. In an environment of greater choice, greater localism, and greater accountability, as presaged in the Open Public Services White Paper, that has got to be a good thing. A good thing to assure and reassure officers, Councillors, and the public.
I’d like to finish by saying a huge thank you to the team. It’s in the nature of being an interim that you turn up, pick up a task, but also that one day you will walk away. That on my last day the team gave me a card signed by all, and a beautiful gift, meant more to me than I can say. They were very generous in their praise of me. I quibbled with only one thing that they said – as I pointed out ‘I’ hadn’t laid the foundations for a revised shared service within the Council : rather ‘we’ had laid those foundations, set out that vision, and actually begun to deliver on our workplan, including some key work on risks to the delivery of key strategic outcomes at both Councils. Well done to them all.