The VSO central office is based in Accra and houses about 18 VSO Ghana staff as well as the Western Africa Regional team of three (made up of the Regional Director, the Regional Finance Officer and the Regional Funding advisor). There was no Country Director in place and the Finance manager had only been in post for a short while alongside a relatively new management team. In the summer of 2010, an internal audit report was prepared in which a number of serious deficiencies were highlighted, most notably around grant management and sub-granting to implementing partners.
Experienced forensic accountant Jacqui Winton-Evans was carefully selected based on her extensive experience in planning, forecasting & reporting on budgets, project work, implementing & reviewing systems & processes and forensic audit. Jacqui quickly provided the senior management and finance team with the extra qualified capacity that they needed. Working alongside the Acting Country Director and Finance Manager she gave practical, hands on impartial and confidential support; helping them to upgrade systems which would enable VSO Ghana run significant restricted grants successfully.
What was achieved?
• Jacqui wrote and produced a Financial Regulations Manual & Financial Procedures Manual suitable for use in both the Accra and the smaller office in Bolgatanga and the Implementing the Manuals.
• She provided assistance in implementing the recommendations made in the internal audit report
• Working with the Finance Manager and the Regional Finance Officer for Western Africa to prepare a 18–24 month Finance Capacity Development Plan Jacqui quickly adapted to her new role and not long into her assignment she made a number of insightful recommendations that were well received. As a result a number of new projects emerged;
• Recommending, writing and/or developing and implementing various systems and policies including the introduction of a VOIP telephone system and Internet Blox System, a new compliant payroll system, an Internet Usage Policy, Archiving Policy, and Departmental Service Level Agreements.
• After reviewing the recent audit report she recommended and implemented various processes to address the significant risks identified in the report.
• Taking sole control for implementing SUN5 financial software system; including testing, producing training materials and delivering staff training.
Following her analysis of staff skills in the Accra & Bolgatanga Programme Office’s Jacqui produced a specific 24 month capacity building plan for the in the Ghana offices as well as a generic plan for Western Africa. Jacqui also produced MS Office training materials from entry level through to advanced level suitable for both junior and senior finance staff, as well as sourcing a trainer and establishing workshops.
Jacqui: “I found my time in Ghana to be extremely rewarding, on a professional and a personal level. I can honestly say that apart from achieving my professional qualification I have never been so proud of my achievements”
As a result of this work VSO approached Jacqui and asked her to lead the global project team to write and implement a Global Finance Manual, extending her volunteer placement for an extended period. The manual was launched at an international finance manager’s conference in Malaysia in August 2012. Further to this VSO again approached Jacqui and commissioned her to produce a UK Finance Manual for use in the VSO head office in London. Both these manuals are now live and actively used throughout VSO International.