Praise for DCC's new internal controls

The Dunedin City Council's move to tighten internal controls has been praised by the Office of the Auditor-general, even as the investigation into an alleged $1 million Citifleet fraud continues.

The words of encouragement came from Auditor-general Lyn Provost as she addressed a meeting of the council's new audit and risk subcommittee during a visit to Dunedin yesterday.

But, despite the headlines and unanswered questions about why the alleged fraud was not detected, including by auditors, the word ''Citifleet'' was not uttered yesterday.

Instead, Ms Provost praised the council's decision to create the subcommittee - as part of a push to improve internal controls - and said good governance required continued attention.

She said the council's new subcommittee had a ''really important'' role to play in helping the council maintain good governance, protect against risks and keep council staff ''safe''.

New Zealand's public sector boasted $240 billion worth of assets and managing them required continuous attention, she said.

Previous OAG inquiries had identified governance issues within the public sector, which was why the OAG endorsed Local Government New Zealand's governance training and other initiatives, she said.

''It's a skill that's learnt. You are not born with it,'' she said.

Public sector organisations and their staff also needed to get better at managing ''unlikely and catastrophic risks'', she observed.

''I know some of them are challenges here, and challenges for you, as well,'' she said.

That prompted Cr Hilary Calvert, a member of the subcommittee, to question the interaction between the council, OAG and related parties.

''I have had people saying to me, recently, 'how did the auditors not pick that up?''' she said.

Councillors and the public could benefit from a better understanding of the way the OAG, council and other parties interacted, she suggested.

That would help the next time someone asked ''how the hell did that happen?'', she said.

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