Resource accounting to boost Whitehall

Although he declined to put a timescale on the dramatic speed up of the preparation of departmental accounts, he said he was confident it could be achieved in the foreseeable future.

Sir Andrew made the pledge when he appeared before the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Accounts to report on progress made on resource accounting.He said work to replace the current outdated departmental appropriation accounts with private sector style resource accounts was on track.

When the switch to the new system is completed Sir Andrew said the time taken to produce government accounts was expected to fall from the existing ten months to just three. This would mean that instead of accounts appearing in January as they do now, they would in future appear in July as with commercial firms.

Sir Andrew said this would bring the government in line with best practice in the private sector.

However new PAC chairman and former Tory minister Edward Leigh was not convinced.

He pointed out that the National Audit Office had identified 27 cases in recent years when the ten month deadline had failed to be met under appropriation accounts and doubted the new system would be able to deliver the sort of improvement Sir Andrew envisaged.

Mr Leigh asked: ‘Are you not trying to run before you can walk?’

But Sir Andrew said he was confident that the new system would, over time, deliver regular accounts to the new tighter deadline.


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