The National Audit Office looks set to be granted greater access to Camelot this week – a move which could signal a new era of increased power for the public-spending watchdog.
The decision had yet to be confirmed as Accountancy Age went to press, but sources said the NAO would be asked to launch a further investigation into the lottery operator’s activities within days.
In the wake of the recent lottery bribery scandal, Public Accounts Committee chairman David Davis expressed concern the NAO was not allowed to examine Camelot’s books. Since then, the watchdog has been asked to report to PAC on the investigation by the new regulator into the work of former regulator, Peter Davis.
An NAO spokeswoman said: ‘If we are not given access to the accounts we have no choice but to qualify them. This doesn’t mean we suspect any wrong-doing, it just means we cannot say we have checked the fund.’
Comptroller and Auditor General Sir John Bourn spoke out against the ‘anachronistic’ situation where he is authorised to chase public funds into the private arena when he is working for the European Commission or the UN, but not when he is acting on behalf of Parliament. Prior to the election, Labour promised Bourn would get more power in his parliamentary role.
Access to Camelot’s accounts could set a precedent for more ‘tracking money’ into the private sector, according to insiders. ‘We’d like to get automatic access to contractors,’ said a spokeswoman. ‘We don’t want to have to check we’re involved on every occasion.’
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