CIPFA really is popular, say chiefs as they hit back at critics

Responing to comments made by public sector specialist Eugene Sullivan of RSM Robson Rhodes to a Commons select committee last week, CIPFA director of education Ken Gill said the last two years had seen increases in student registrations for CIPFA with numbers rising from 508 in 1998 to 550 in 1999.

January and February this year has already seen the highest number of registrations for the past eight years, and Gill said the success was 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,’ he added.

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.’

Addressing the Commons environment sub-committee last week, KPMG said the future of public sector audit was under threat because of a lack of training at District Audit – though the call has been seen as an attempt to force District Audit to open up more of its work to the private sector.

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%.

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