NAO stands by ICA

The endorsement came from Wendy Kenway-Smith, who this year joined the NAO’s management board after her promotion to assistant auditor general. Responsible for training she said the defection by Ernst & Young and movements by KPMG and PwC to ICAS had no influence over the NAO and its commitment to the English ICA’s training.

She said: ‘We are not planning to shift our main training programme through the ICAEW.

‘Fundamentally we are still happy. We have found it good to train students under that qualification. We aren’t intending to do 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.

Kenway-Smith’s 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.

She joined the NAO in 1994 as director of audit after working as a partner at BDO Stoy Hayward.

She has overseen the introduction of Audit 21, a revised code of practice for NAO auditors launched at the end of last year.

Introduced with little fanfare Audit 21 is in essence the forerunner of the Audit Commission’s new Code of Audit Practice and sees the NAO make the role of its officers more flexible and gives 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 to get a more focused audit.’

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