NAO stands by ICA.

The National Audit Office has reaffirmed its commitment to training recruits with the English ICA despite the recent defections of Big Five firms to the Scottish institute.

The endorsement came from Wendy Kenway-Smith, who joined the NAO’s management board after her promotion to assistant auditor general.

Responsible for training, she said the moves by the Big Five to ICAS had no influence on the NAO and its commitment to the English ICA’s training.

She told Accountancy Age: ‘We are not planning to shift our training programme through the English ICA. Fundamentally we are happy. We have found it good to train students under that qualification. We aren’t intending otherwise.’

The bulk of recruits to the NAO now train with the English ICA where CIPFA, the public sector accountancy body, once dominated. It is understood officials at a resurgent CIPFA are keen to regain its leading position at the NAO but Kenway-Smith made it clear that it was unlikely.

Her willingness to talk marks a new era for the NAO where officials are traditionally reluctant to talk directly to the press. She heads up the NAO Unit B in charge of work in relation to home affairs, central finance, agriculture and transport. She is one of only two women on the organisation’s management.

Kenway-Smith joined the NAO in 1994 and has overseen the introduction of Audit 21, a revised code of practice for NAO auditors launched at the end of last year.

Audit 21 is the forerunner of the Audit Commission’s new Code of Audit Practice and sees the NAO make the role of its officers more flexible, giving them greater decision making powers.

Kenway-Smith says the project has so far been a success and will make audit cheaper: ‘It’s proving to be worthwhile.

The aim is to add to efficiency.

‘One of the benefits we are hoping to get out of it is a more focused audit.’

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