CIPFA on the defensive over accusations it is unpopular and threatening public sector audit

The institute was replying to comments made by public sector specialist Eugene Sullivan of RSM Robson Rhodes to a House of Commons select committee.

CIPFA director of education Ken Gill, refuted Sullivan’s remarks saying ‘our time is coming’.

He said the last two years had seen increases in student registrations for CIPFA with numbers rising from 508 in 1998 to 550 in 1999 and plans afoot to make sure the millennium year would produce another rise.

January and February this year has already seen the highest number of registrations for the past eight years, the success put down to the institute’s relaunched qualification.

‘CIPFA has seen growth in all its sectors local authorities, health and audit, in particular our largest single trainer District Audit,’ said Gill.

CIPFA is aiming for even greater growth over the next three years and claims central government policy on measuring the outcomes from services through bodies like the newly formed Audit Scotland would only increase demand for CIPFA trained staff.

Eugene Sullivan’s remarks came during a Commons’ committee investigation into the Audit Commission. Claims had been made that the Commission’s agency District Audit was risking the future of public sector audit because it failed to train enough people.

Sullivan, head of public sector services at Robson Rhodes, said he believed District Audit was not responsible and that it was a ‘sector problem’ with the unpopularity of CIPFA qualifications at the root of it.

‘It’s clear that they are not as attractive as they once were. I have difficulty finding people to train CIPFA when they have other options.’

KPMG has lead the claims that the future of public sector audit is under threat though commentators claim the position can be read as a ploy to force open more of the market to the Big Five.

Currently only a third of Audit Commission work is open to the private sector and KPMG has publicly called for the share to be increased to 50%./a>

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