Tag Archives: audit

Audit NZ report of Horowhenua District Council highlights continuing concerns

Horowhenua District Council lost $1.86 million on the sale of the pensioner housing and 1.1 hectare of bare land to land and property dealer Willis Bond according to a recently released Audit NZ report.
The loss on the sale contradicts statements made by council’s chief executive David Clapperton in an April 5, 2017 Community Connections newsletter that, “There are..important criteria, including a realistic price offer.” A council Community Housing Transfer document also stated the aim was to “receive a fair market value on sale.”
The Audit NZ report for the Year ending 30 June 2017, presented to the February 18 Finance, Audit and Risk committee, noted “some of” Audit NZ’s “recommendations from last year’s reports to the council had been addressed, but there were still improvements required.”
The council was criticised on a number of fronts including presenting an incomplete set of draft accounts in “some areas” and “delays during the audit in receiving follow-up information especially in relation to [council owned land and property] revaluations and some service performance measure support” which impacted on “the timeliness and completion of audit work.”
Other concerns include a lack of controls over council’s expenditure system. “Although management has developed a report that may assist to mitigate the risks of unauthorised expenditure, without the one-up review there is still the risk of fraud and inefficiencies.”
“Recommendations have been made [by Audit NZ] in previous years to enhance the purchase order controls in the expenditure system to specifically require purchase orders to be approved on a one up basis. This would decrease the risk to the district council by providing a mechanism to prevent inappropriate expenditure being incurred.”
The Audit NZ report stated that previously manager’s were required to independently review or approve a purchase order but, “there is now no requirement for manager approval over the subsequent invoice.”
According to an updated council Delegations Register Mr Clapperton is authorised to spend up to $1 million on specified contracts for services.
In a ‘Review of Sensitive Expenditure Internal Audit’ 9 August 2017 report financial audit, tax, and advisory company KPMG said an alternative approach to the “one-up review” was required for the chief executive and the Mayor because “there is no more senior person.”
KPMG recommended, “the customer and community services group manager approve the chief executive’s sensitive expenditure and the chief executive approve the mayor’s sensitive spending and the mayor approve the customer and community service group manager’s sensitive spending.”
Although KPMG and Audit NZ have both expressed concerns about control over council spending the council told Audit NZ, “both last year and again this year, that there is no intention to following a one-up approval approach in the electronic purchase order system.”
“It is Council’s view that sufficient controls currently exist in the procurement process and the implementation of one up approval for purchase orders would neither be operationally efficient nor significantly lessen the risk.”
On conflict of interest matters the Audit NZ report stated, “more detail still needs to be included for handling of issues, breaches and their mitigations…for such areas as secondary employment.”
Audit NZ also found, “not all assets in the land and buildings asset class were revalued and there were assets that were revalued by the valuer that the District Council no longer owned.”
Audit NZ also found that, “Adjustments to the valuation information were difficult to follow and increased the audit time involved in reviewing the valuation work” and that, “The valuations assumed that useful lives of infrastructure assets had remained the same and no review was done against asset condition.”


Veronica Harrod is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.

For more information about Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.

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Council to restart controversial email screening

Did they ever stop one would have to wonder? I attended the last pre-Christmas council meeting, the controversial one where they tried unsuccessfully to unseat the elected mayor, and former Councilor Anne Hunt told us her emails are being both intercepted and shared with third parties. On the strength of that she uses the recipients’ private email addresses. Such is the ongoing privacy debacle (or lack thereof) that’s happening planet wide. If you were inclined to the conspiratorial you’d call it Big Brother. But then ‘conspiracy theory’ was invented by those who want to deflect you from the real issue, they actually are spying on your every move online. It’s all recorded… to protect you from ‘terrorists’ of course. I was recently cited the latest amendments to the banking fraternity’s fine print saying I’d have to send my photo ID (you know that drivers license cum photo ID that you must carry with you, if you drive ie all the time). I had to send it because of the latest terrorist modifications to the fine print. Perhaps they fear they are going to blow up the banks? Or the ATMs? Anyway, the Council being the topic here, we now know it’s official that spying, I mean watching out for Council staff’s safety, means your communications will be perused by somebody there and it is going to be an ongoing practice for now.  EnvirowatchHorowhenua


Council to restart controversial email screening

From the NZ Herald

Controversial email screening looks set to be restarted by Horowhenua District Council despite ongoing investigations into the practice.

A Finance and Risk committee recommended adopting a new version of the policy, altered to exclude elected councillors from having their emails vetted, but otherwise very similar to the previous policy, according to report-writer and HDC Corporate Services group manager Mark Lester.

The previous policy, where the council’s chief executive had emails from people on a “blacklist” redirected to himself personally, landed the council in hot water after it was picked up by an audit and labelled as an “extreme risk” that could breach privacy laws and damage the council’s reputation.

The council commissioned a peer review of the original audit, which then claimed no conclusion could be drawn over the practice due to a lack of working papers from the auditor.

Later statements from the council slammed the auditor as having not done his job properly.

A public outcry resulted in complaints to the Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner’s office, who are investigating.

Mayor Michael Feyen, who had his emails vetted for up to three years, said he abstained from voting on adopting the new policy because he believed the council should wait for the results of the investigations.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/horowhenua-chronicle/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503788&objectid=11926574

Horowhenua DC’s intercepting politicians’ email a ‘constitutional outrage’ says legal expert

FROM Stuff.co.nz

A council’s interception of politicians’ emails is a “constitutional outrage”, a legal expert says.

Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton screened emails to both staff and councillors, a leaked draft audit shows, and there are calls for him to step aside as the matter is investigated.

Victoria University senior lecturer in law Dean Knight said serious alarm bells should ring if it was proven there were practices that obstructed communication between elected politicians and the constituents they were accountable to.

“It’s just astonishing. If it’s the case that the chief executive has been intercepting and/or censoring emails to councillors – especially without their knowledge or consent – I think it’s a real worry.

READ MORE

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/94896547/intercepting-politicians-email-a-constitutional-outrage

CE email vetting may fall foul of Privacy Act reports mainstream

As the ‘debate’ rages on social media about the perceived rights and wrongs of interfering in email communications without the participants’ knowledge, the privacy commissioner has commented. The CE in question has claimed he’s done nothing legally wrong as the Council own the emails. Have a read. There are many articles from mainstream now calling the CE’s actions into question as the issue gets too big to sweep under the rug as they generally tend to do. Whistle blowers have uncovered a variety of questionable issues with the HDC in recent months & years with little outrage from folk least of all mainstream. In fact I’ve noticed they take the side of the establishment, ever so subtly. Here’s hoping there will be a forensic audit on this, and that the report that highlighted this issue be released to the public in the meantime. Once tabled at a council meeting it is then open for the public to read. Unfortunately six Councillors advised they wouldn’t be at Wednesday’s meeting so with no quorum it was postponed. It would have been tabled there I believe. It becomes harder and harder to defend this council in any way, well those who hold the power of vote that is. In the meantime there’s the usual hate fest going on against the perceived whistleblower, except this time the newspaper in question has publicly stated the mayor did not leak the information to them.
EnvirowatchHorowhenua

 

From Horowhenua Chronicle

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By Adam Shelton

Horowhenua District Council chief executive David Clapperton’s view, as reported this week, on email privacy and ownership is misconceived, says the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Mr Clapperton, commenting earlier this week on the controversy surrounding his interception of other people’s emails, said he had not breached privacy in any way in his communications practices.

“Emails addressed to an @horowhenua.govt.nz email address are the property of the Horowhenua District Council as is outlined in the electronic communication policy,” he said.

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