Separation of duties

All work involving money should follow the 'separation of duties' principle. It aims to prevent both errors and possible fraud by making sure that one person is not responsible for the whole of any one transaction, such as ordering an item, authorising the payment and signing the cheque.

In the early days of an emergency this may be difficult. Staff will get used to the freedom and flexibility of operating without such controls, and may resent any new restrictions. Others will have seen the opportunity for fraud. It is therefore essential to introduce strong controls as soon as possible.

In a small office, there may not be enough staff for duties to be separated. The best a programme manager can do is to keep cash and authorisation levels as low as possible and make sure that you make both regular and unannounced document and reality checks.