The National Audit Office last week said the accounts had received a clean bill of health, ending speculation that GCHQ had employed too few accountants to crack the audit.
GCHQ admitted ‘stringent procedures’ under resource accounting had made the successful completion of its accounts a close-run thing. The statement is likely to provoke bewilderment because resource accounting came into force in April 2001.
A spokesman said: ‘We have fallen foul of the stipulations for three years but we have to account for our assets now, which isn’t easy when you have billions of bits of kit. We got there by the skin of our teeth this year so there’s still room for plenty of improvement.’
Resource accounting is designed to ensure the full costs of government activity are measured by including non-cash costs and measuring the cost of holding and using assets.
GCHQ has responded to its close call with a recruitment drive under the slogan ‘accountancy is not just a numbers game’. GCHQ said the ad was not intended to imply any ‘James Bond-like’ activities.
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