The Board was advised that the contract for the provision of the Council’s external audit services would expire on 31 March 2023. In 2016 the Council joined a sector-led procurement of external auditors to be undertaken by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA). Over 98% of councils nationally joined the PSAA arrangement. Following the procurement exercise Grant Thornton UK LLP were appointed as the Council’s external auditors for five years until 31 March 2023.
It was noted that the procurement of external audit services was a lengthy process and it was therefore necessary to begin the procurement process to secure these services from 1 April 2023 onwards.
The report outlined the following options which were available to the Council as follows:
i. To opt-in to the national procurement arrangements to be led by PSAA;
ii. To undertake the procurement of external audit services alone; and
iii. To undertake the procurement of external audit services with other councils on a regional or other basis.
The Board was advised that options (i) and (iii) would require considerable resources on the part of the Council, to undertake the procurement process, evaluate the tender bids and subsequently manage and monitor the contract over the five year period. It would also be necessary to establish an Auditor Panel with an independent Chair, to oversee the procurement process. It was also considered unlikely that options (i) and (iii) would deliver a more cost effective outcome for the Council, as providers would benefit from significant economies of scale under the national arrangement.
For these reasons it was proposed that the Council once again opt-in to the national procurement arrangements to be operated by PSAA. The decision to opt-in must be approved by Council with the final deadline for opting-in 11 March 2022.
RESOLVED: That Council be recommended to approve opting-in to the sector-led procurement by Public Sector Audit Appointments, for the provision of external audit services for the five years commencing 1 April 2023.