Good governance and accountability vital in the public sector – Armstrong

Alliance Communities spokesperson, Kellie Armstrong MLA, has said that good governance and accountability are vital when dealing with public funding.

The Strangford MLA was speaking after publication of a report from the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) into Sport NI, which is sponsored by the Department for Communities. The purpose of Sport NI is to promote and encourage sport and physical recreation.

Kellie Armstrong said: “The NIAO report covers a period of great turmoil in Sport NI, with internal staffing issues and resignations of Board members. The NIAO found that during this time Sport NI fell far below the necessary standard of record keeping, with significant gaps in documentation around key areas governance, including the setting of objectives and the timely completion of financial statements

“Responsibility for these failings must lie with both Sport NI and its sponsor department, initially the Department for Culture Arts and Leisure and latterly the Department for Communities. The NIAO estimates the governance failings cost Sport NI £1.5 million and diverted it from its principal focus of furthering sport and recreation.

“Clearly there are lessons to be learned from this report. Public bodies must strictly adhere to the highest standards of governance and accountability. They must ensure proper financial records are kept and robust corporate objectives are set and monitored. Sponsor departments for public bodies need to regularly monitor performance and ensure that the organisation possesses the necessary resources and skills to fulfil its governance responsibilities. Scarce public finances need to be spent wisely.”