Accountancy Age Awards – Public good

The accountancy profession’s premier awards event returns this November to celebrate the 30th birthday of Accountancy Age. The 1999 Accountancy Age Awards for Excellence, to be held on Wednesday 3 November at London’s Natural History Museum, will celebrate the best in service provision and accounting innovation.

Ten categories will offer prizes and the ultimate recognition for the profession’s stars, from the big firms to the new accountant of the year.

But the category for Public Sector Achievement of the Year is sure to attract some of the fiercest competition in a sector which has experienced a series of exciting changes and major challenges over the past year.

The award, which is sponsored this year by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, offers the chance for public service accountants to showcase their achievements in delivering best value with limited public resources.

Rapid change demands innovation and flexibility, qualities all potential prizewinners will need to display – particularly so for the public-sector award.

The judges will be looking for individuals and organisations who have broken the mould and whose achievements point the way to the future.

Exemplary effort is needed to excel in any area of public-sector financial management these days. With the government set to modernise both local and central government, along with reform of the National Health Service, sound financial management has a greater emphasis role than ever before.

Previous winners of the public sector award include Alex Ritchie, the finance director of Sheffield’s South Yorkshire Supertram, who scooped the prize in 1995 for his work on the innovative transport project.

The most recent winner was Peter Gill of South Coast Audit who took the award in 1996 for his outstanding contribution to the development of internal audit in the public sector. At South Coast Audit, a consortium of NHS bodies providing internal audit and consultancy services to NHS organisations in Kent, Sussex and Surrey, Gill pushed forward several financial initiatives.

In particular, he recognised the need for continual quality improvements and developing a more commercial approach to audit.

Public-sector accountants will also be able to enter the award for Finance Team of the Year. Perhaps your authority has performed an outstanding approach to implementing best value. Maybe your NHS trust has introduced an innovative way of accounting for primary care groups. Innovation is the watchword and the winners will be able to show clear business benefits from their efforts.

For local authority accountants, the most significant change has perhaps been the introduction of the government’s best value regime and abolition of Compulsory Competitive Tendering.

NHS reforms have led to the emergence of primary care groups and health authorities and trusts becoming as concerned with corporate governance as they are with clinical governance.

Central government departments and agencies are facing implementation of resource accounting and budgeting which will see them account more commercially and leave behind the traditional cash-based method.

Charity accounting has faced the government’s charity taxation review and the loss of ACT relief which has become a major hurdle for finance directors to overcome.

Who will win this year’s awards? Potential candidates could be controversial Deloitte & Touche district auditor John Magill who has seen his homes-for-votes investigation become the longest running in English local government history.

Incoming CIPFA president Brian Smith is another potential prizewinner for his work at Stoke on Trent Unitary Authority, where, as chief executive, he has led the charge to prepare the council for its expanded role.

Other outstanding local authority treasurers include Helen Kilpatrick at West Sussex County Council, and Steve Freer at Warwickshire.

In the NHS, the new director of counter fraud services Jim Gee has proved his ability and commitment to tackling fraud in the health service, while throughout the service, health authority and trust finance staff have coped with radical change with enthusiasm.

Martin Finch, head of financial practice and standards at Worcestershire county council, is another popular candidate for his work on completing one of the largest private finance initiative contracts in the public sector.

Jon Seddon, Highways Agency FD, has exemplified the principles of management accountancy within a tight budget. While Irvine Lapsley, professor of accounting at Edinburgh university, is also in the running for his work heading the Institute of Public Sector Accounting Research.

Innovation and flexibility are the key words in this category. Prizewinners will need to display both if they are to be in with a chance of taking home the coveted prize.


Free entry

Closing date for entries: 30th July 1999

Ceremony 3 November 1999

Venue: Natural History Museum London

For any entry form: call 0171 316 9554


visit: Accountancy Age is pleased to announce that Sage, the leading provider of PC accounting and payroll software, is to sponsor the Small Firm of the Year award in our 1999 Awards for Excellence.

Welcoming Sage as a sponsor, editor Douglas Broom said: ‘Small firms are the bedrock of the profession and for most people in the UK they are the public face of the profession too. We are very glad to have a major player like Sage endorsing our commitment to this important part of the practice profession.’

Sage managing director Graham Wylie said: ‘We are delighted to sponsor an award which will recognise the achievements of our partners in the accountancy profession.

‘The importance of our relationship with accountants cannot be over emphasised. Not only do the most successful firms use our software to manage their own practices but eight out of ten accountants to recommend software recommend Sage.

‘Our recent IT skill survey, carried out with Accountancy Age, also showed that the more IT literate practices are, the more prosperous they are too. So we are very pleased to sponsor an award which recognises dynamic and successful firms.’

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