Public Sector – New audit body for Scotland

Scotland will have its own independent audit body covering most of the public sector by spring 2000, Accountancy Age has learned.

Under current proposals, the auditing staff of the National Audit Office in Scotland and the Accounts Commission for Scotland will merge to form a powerful new body known as Audit Scotland.

The elections for the Scottish parliament are due to take place in May this year, but sources close to the working party drawing up the final details said Audit Scotland should be up and running by April 2000.

The appointment of an Auditor General has yet to be decided, although a candidate is expected to be chosen by the end of this year.

Staff from the Accounts Commission and the NAO are currently considering the options for the parliament’s financial framework.

The expert Financial Issues Advisory Group was set up in February 1998 to propose the rules, procedures, standing orders and legislation for the parliament’s financial issues.

Audit reports on the NHS will be made to the parliament, while the Accounts Commission will continue to deal with local authority audit reports.

Additionally, a Public Audit Commission will be established to consider general questions of accountability and audit, although it will not direct the auditor general Scotland.

Devolution minister Henry McLeish said: ‘Setting up appropriate financial arrangements will be one of the key tasks facing the Scottish parliament when it is elected in May next year.

‘FIAG recommends that the appointment of the Auditor General for Scotland and the establishment of Audit Scotland should receive early and urgent attention.’

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