Racing for deadline

Two government departments have slammed reports they will miss the 1urce accounting. April deadline for conducting a dry-run of the government’s resource accounting and budgeting regime.

At the end of February, a National Audit Office progress report on resource accounting said two ‘major departments’ would not have systems in place and at least 14 were ‘struggling’ with their schedules.

Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General, warned the Public Accounts Committee late last year that an extra year’s dummy run might be necessary.

Subsequent press reports identified the DETR and the Ministry of Defence as the two stragglers.

But the finance directorate of the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions was adamant in its denial. ‘Our IT and accounting people are mystified, because we are on track and are going to make it for 1 April,’ said a DETR spokeswoman. ‘Some people may have thought it might be us because we amalgamated two departments in the past year. But we didn’t need to put in a new system, we just had to adapt the existing Finest system used by the DoE.’

The MoD admitted it would not make the 1 April dry run, but a spokeswoman commented: ‘That was never our plan. Due to the size and complexity of the MoD in comparison to other departments, we have always planned to be online in September 1998.’

The MoD’s move to resource accounting is being managed under the banner of Project Capital, which includes Coopers & Lybrand and IBM as major contractors.

The project has encountered a couple of obstacles, but the spokeswoman said things were going very smoothly for the department to join in the dry run for 1998-99.

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