Second clean audit spells mind-set shift at NAC
Strong corporate governance, greater risk management and internal control, commitment, and teamwork through collaboration between the Council (the board), management and staff.
These have all contributed to the National Arts Council (NAC) having received its second consecutive clean audit from the Auditor-General of South Africa for 2015/16.
According to NAC chief financial officer Dumisani Dlamini, for the period under review, the NAC implemented “clean audit” as part of its performance management system. In effect, this meant that all NAC employees were required to ensure that a clean audit is achieved as part of their key performance indicators. This, says Dlamini, inculcated an attitude of personal accountability in all employees.
“Managers are accountable for their financial management within their own environment by managing budget, guided by the finance department and being accountable for their procurement, guided by the supply chain unit. In addition, staff have been encouraged to understand the control measures that have been put in place by means of regular communication and workshops to educate them about finance and procurement matters. Financial management has become a part of each department’s meetings,” says Dlamini.
Operationally, the aim at the NAC’s executive level is to sustain a clean audit outcome forever. In this regard, there has been an emphasis on greater service delivery to the arts sector, hence a concerted effort to ensure quicker turnaround times in processing funding applications and making payments to artists and arts organisations. This was demonstrated by the fact that the NAC disbursed more funding for projects in 2015/16 compared with the previous financial year. This also signalled the NAC making further strides towards fulfilling its mandate.
Greater cost-saving measures were put in place in 2015/16, which also contributed to achieving the clean audit result. These measures included, among other things, savings on printing and print maintenance, travel costs, audit fees, and on service providers by means of better price negotiations.
This has all contributed to the NAC finding itself in an environment of sound financial management where corporate governance, in terms of strict adherence to regulations and legislation, is strong. This, in turn, has meant that funds managed by the NAC on behalf of government and donors are safe and in good hands.
Concluding, Dlamini says: “The NAC has institutionalised sound financial management, corporate governance and compliance to legislation by training each and every employee to have a good understanding and be champions of financial management. The NAC is also in the process of professionalising its finance team, as continued professional development has become part of our training. We are aiming to ensure that each and every employee has one form or another of basic training in finance, even if it means finance for non-finance managers.”