Public Sector – NAO attacks Trust Office

National Audit Office head Sir John Bourn has slammed the Public Trust Office for failing to obtain accounts from receivers in more than 40% of the cases that they were used, writes Ben Griffiths.

Sir John said the office, which is responsible for managing the finances of those taken mentally ill, must be ‘more vigorous and systematic’ in pursuing receivers which failed to submit accounts.

When the PTO did obtain accounts, only 25% were reviewed within the target time of four weeks – a deterioration since 1993, when 85% were dealt with on time.

An executive agency since 1994, the office aimed to produce auditable, commercial-style financial statements from 1996/1997. It will not do so until 1998/1999, due to ‘weaknesses in its accounting policies, systems and procedures’.

Without the accounts, the NAO said it was impossible to confirm that the office had met its targets for efficiency savings or a 1994 commitment to the Public Accounts Committee to reduce costs by at least 2% in each of the subsequent three years.

Sir John was also concerned over the management of #1.45bn of patients’ funds that the office supervises. He recommended a timetable for the production of auditable accounts from 1998/1999.

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