The role of the head of internal audit in public sector organisations


The head of internal audit occupies a critical position in any organisation, helping it to achieve its objectives by evaluating the effectiveness of governance, risk management and internal control arrangements and playing a key role in promoting good corporate governance. The aim of this Statement is to set out the role of the head of internal audit in public service organisations and to help ensure organisations engage with and support the role effectively.








The UK Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) provide clear standards for internal audit but heads of internal audit in the public services face challenges ensuring professional standards are maintained and their internal audit teams remain effective. One key reason for this is that the organisation in which they operate has a direct impact on the resources, scope and authority given to internal audit.

This CIPFA statement sets out not only the responsibilities of the head of internal audit but also those of the organisation. CIPFA believes internal audit has an essential role to play in supporting those objectives and considers that heads of internal audit need recognition for their contributions, together with support and encouragement.

The intended audience for this statement is not just heads of internal audit in the public services. It should be read by all those with a leadership role in public bodies and by members of audit committees. CIPFA recommends those bodies evaluate their organisational arrangements for internal audit and consider the extent to which they align to the principles. We hope it will be the basis of conversations between the internal audit, the leadership team and the audit committee and that the vital role of the head of internal audit is given its due recognition and support.