Scotland – Black set to be auditor general

Scottish Office civil servants are poised to cast aside their usual caution and appoint an outsider to the post of auditor general for Scotland, the watchdog of the new Scottish parliament, Whitehall sources have indicated.

Elections for the parliament take place today and Robert Black, controller of audit at the Accounts Commission for Scotland, is emerging as clear favourite for the £100,000-a-year job as the deadline approaches for applications.

Black, former chief executive of Tayside council, is well respected for his work with the commission. His closest rival is Martin Pfleger, the National Audit Office’s assistant auditor general and some sources expect the Scottish Office to opt for Pfleger. ‘The one thing Bob is not is a Scottish civil servant. He’s got an uphill struggle because civil servants are notorious for looking after their own,’ said one.

The auditor general will also be chief executive of Audit Scotland, the new body tasked with ensuring all public spending bodies in Scotland achieve value for money and adhere to financial management standards.

An early task for the auditor general will be to establish an audit operation for the Scottish parliament and other public-sector bodies when Audit Scotland takes over on 1 April 2000.

The parliament will have a total annual spending programme of £15bn, including funding for public services presently provided by the Scottish Office and the Crown Office.

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