CONNECTING THE DOTS:
The purpose of this six-part article is to help connect the dots between some of the recent policy initiatives that call for increased accountability measures and the forces behind them. There are four key issues that are driving our focus on accountability. In the last four issues, we reviewed the theological imperative, societal expectations, and our experience with fraud and misappropriation.
The fourth issue relates to accountability and the findings of our internal audit function. The internal audit group assesses ministry units in five areas - operational efficiency, strategic management, financial position, financial reporting and compliance - and assigns ratings of satisfactory, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory. Based on 408 audits completed in the last few years since this rating system was adopted, only 14% of units have received a rating of satisfactory when it comes to compliance with the Army’s policies.
If you browse the Operating Policy Manual, you will see that, by and large, our policies deal with accountability in some fashion or another. Clearly, we have a problem when it comes to accountability in our organization---and it is widespread.
So, how do we create a culture of accountability? It will not happen overnight, but there are a number of steps we have taken that will help facilitate our ability to change the Army’s culture.
The staff expense policy (OP3409) outlines the rules governing expenses for which officers and employees may be reimbursed, while the expenditure and payment policy (OP3410) provides guidance for those who have been charged with authorization of expenditures.
For some time, we have had rules governing who authorizes expenses for officers and employees at THQ and DHQ. Now, we have a requirement that all expenses payable to an officer or employee in charge of a ministry unit or a member of his/her family must be approved by someone at DHQ. Various policies are in the process of being revised to reflect this new requirement.
The Whistleblower Policy (OP0202) establishes a confidential e-mail address to which individuals may send information concerning any situation where they suspect inappropriate or fraudulent activity. We are now in the process of setting up an anonymous telephone line as well.
Finally, we recently issued a new code of conduct (OP0203) that sets out the behaviour that we expect from officers, employees and volunteers when they work for The Salvation Army.
All of these developments speak to our desire to create a culture of accountability in the organization. In the near future, you can expect a number of additional measures that call for stronger internal controls.