Tales of a Caribbean Auditor

John HernimanI never thought, as an Audit Trainee for District Audit in the late 1980s, that I would end up as the Chief Auditor for the tropical Caribbean island of Anguilla. But that’s exactly what has happened.

I’m travelling out to the British overseas territory, as Chief Auditor for the Government of Anguilla, to start planning the audits of their 2011 and 2012 financial accounts.

Nestling east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Anguilla covers a 37 square mile area, with a population of just 13,500, and is noted for its spectacular beaches and coral reefs.

Now, some may wonder why a Welsh public sector auditor would be involved in work like this. But while it is not a common activity, overseas commissioned work is something that the Wales Audit Office is called on to do from time to time. And, it is a very worthwhile mission.

It gives our staff the opportunity to work in different audit environments outside Wales, to broaden their related knowledge and expertise and bring the learning back home; it also raises the profile of our organisation elsewhere which, in turn, helps to put Wales on an international stage.

These are the sorts of benefits we’ve found previously, where we’ve carried out work abroad – such as governance reviews for the States of Guernsey, developing internal audit functions in Croatia, and training auditors in Malta, the Cayman Islands and the European Union.

This time, we successfully bid for the two-year project to provide external audit services and a Chief Auditor for the Government of Anguilla – through a competitive tender exercise, against a number of public sector audit offices globally.

The full cost of this work is covered by the Government of Anguilla and it is a real privilege for the Wales Audit Office to play a role in adding real value to the delivery of public services to the people of Anguilla.

I have enjoyed many holidays in the Caribbean but this is the first time I will be visiting on business which has thrown my normal holiday packing routine somewhat. . I’ll be there for just a week, planning for a longer visit of the full WAO team of 5 next year. I’m meeting the Public Accounts Committee, the Permanent Secretary. the Governor to the island and other officials. I also hope to meet representatives from the firms who undertake audits of other government agencies there, essentially on my behalf, as the Chief Auditor.

So, I guess I’d better start getting used to my new role – an exciting one, albeit something I would never have predicted. And, of course, it’s alongside my main job – as Group Director for Financial Audit in the local government and criminal justice sectors at the WAO – which, as an Audit Trainee in the 1980s, was something I would have had in mind.

About the Author:

John Herniman has worked for the Wales Audit Office and its predecessor organisations since joining District Audit as a trainee in 1987. He is now a Financial Audit Group Director for the local government and criminal justice sectors and manages a varied portfolio of clients throughout Wales.

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