Spies’ accounts in danger of qualification – again

Link: Whitehall to face NAO over red tape cock-up

The blame – according to the committee – lay in GCHQ having had only five accountants in post just after resource accounting was introduced. They now have 19.

The report by the committee, chaired by Labour MP Ann Taylor, said NAO chief Sir John Bourn had said the accounts for the Security Service including MI6 had been a ‘true and fair’ record of their expenditure.

However, accountant MP Harry Cohen said: ‘This shows those in charge at GCHQ were committed to spend a great deal without having the basic semblance of control. I am not yet satisfied that these important arrangements are in place even now.’

GCHQ accounts were qualified for three main reasons.

There was insufficient evidence that interest on capital charges had been properly presented. Millions of pounds worth of operational listed on the fixed asset register remained to be reconciled to items listed on the inventory system. And the accounting status of prepayments could not be verified.

Total spending for the intelligence services has risen from £938m, resource, and £108m, capital, in 2001-02 to a proposed £1.176bn, resource and £198.9m, capital, in 2005-06.

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