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Wales Audit Office gears up for future
Reviews as varied as major transport projects and hospital catering have made a major impact. New, more consistent assessments in health and local government have complemented the financial audit of accounts across the Welsh public sector. And, in recognition of the financial pressures public bodies are facing, the Wales Audit Office has reduced its total fees by eight per cent between 2009 and 2011.
At the same time, the Auditor General has been concentrating on improving the governance of the Wales Audit Office. Having addressed issues with the 2009-10 accounts and pursued a rigorous round of savings and efficiency improvements, the Wales Audit Office has redressed a difficult financial position and emerged in better shape to help Wales deal with the financial challenges ahead.
Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said recently:
“I will not pretend that it has been an easy year, but it has been a very productive one. After intense scrutiny, the Wales Audit Office has emerged stronger and better equipped to serve the people of Wales. This report shows the breadth and quality of our work; our financial discipline and our commitment to openness.
I am confident that we are now on a sound footing. A robust and independent public audit that ‘tells it like it is’ is an essential component of healthy democratic government. But, we must always make sure that the costs of audit are more than outweighed by the benefits for the people of Wales.
We need to show our value through the potential savings we identify for the public sector, the way we prevent irregularity in spending and the impact we make, when we point to new and better ways of working. I think we are getting that right and can help Wales spend wisely in the challenging times ahead.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Auditor General and the auditors he appoints in local government are the independent statutory external auditors of most of the Welsh public sector. They are responsible for the annual audit of the majority of public money spent in Wales, including the £14 billion of funds that are voted to Wales annually by the Westminster Parliament. Elements of this funding are passed by the Welsh Government to the NHS in Wales (over £5 billion) and to local government (nearly £4 billion).
- The Wales Audit Office mission is to promote improvement, so that people in Wales benefit from accountable, well-managed public services that offer the best possible value for money. It is also committed to identify and spreading good practice across the Welsh public sector.
- Financial audit is at the heart of the Wales Audit Office’s work, and it has provided assurance and helped to promote improvement across all sectors during 2010-11.
- We recently introduced a more structured and consistent model of assessment in both health and local government which has enabled a greater degree of informed and constructive comparison in our reporting to the public and to other stakeholders.
- We have published value for money reports covering topics as relevant and diverse as major transport projects and hospital catering. Alongside this work, we have involved ourselves with promoting efficiency and innovation.
- This is Huw Vaughan Thomas’ first annual report as Auditor General for Wales. For the first six months of the year covered by this report, the Wales Audit Office was under the leadership of his predecessor Gillian Body.
- In addition to reducing its fees by an average of eight per cent, the Auditor General intends to seek further efficiencies in the forthcoming year.
- The new governance arrangements aim to ensure that whoever holds the office of Auditor General, they will be subject to a more rigorous and robust framework of checks and balances. The Welsh Government and the National Assembly for Wales Public Accounts Committee have announced the intention to seek to enshrine this principle in legislation.
- The Auditor General for Scotland, was established as auditor of the accounts of the Auditor General for Wales for the 2010-11 year of account, by the National Assembly for Wales on 18 March 2011.
- As well as giving an unqualified opinion on the financial statements of the Auditor General for Wales, the Auditor General for Scotland has also prepared a substantive report on the accounts, which concluded that the recommended actions of the Public Accounts Committee, in relation to the Auditor General for Wales’ accounts, have been implemented.