Tuesday 22 August 2017

Comptroller can't sign off on late accounts of 66 State agencies

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

The accounts for 66 state agencies and quangos couldn't be signed-off at year-end by the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) due to delays and queries raised by the auditors.

The main agencies and bodies involved were in the health and education areas, but accounts for nine funds run by government departments also failed to have their accounts signed off. The figures are included in a strategy review document released by the C&AG.

Sixty-six bodies in total failed to have their accounts signed off, putting them into "arrears", the phrase used by the C&AG.

"Audits can only be finalised when accounts are produced and audit queries addressed," explained the C&AG in the document. Failure to produce accounts on time and in the correct format was a key reason many of the bodies could not get sign-off, the C&AG explained.

In 19 cases, the C&AG was still seeking additional information and explanation about the numbers. In seven cases, the accounts were awaiting sign-off from the previous year. Eight cases did not get sign-off because the C&AG was prioritising other matters. The office was also badly hit because of the government's decentralisation programme.

Completion

"The office engages external auditing services to assist it in the timely completion of its audit programme.

It also seeks to improve timeliness by increasing the level of audit work completed within the year of account,'' said the document issued by the C&AG.

The organisation appears to be concerned at the length of time it takes for some bodies to produce a full set of accounts.

"A major influence on the overall speed of audit completion is the timeliness of account production by audited bodies. While all accounts of government departments were presented for audit and certified before the statutory deadline, only 40pc of other audited bodies met the two-month production target set in a code of practice issued by the Minister for Finance,'' said its document.

"However, with less than 50pc compliance with the code of practice in this area, it is clear that account production performance in bodies other than government departments needs to be further improved," it added.

"The future will bring its own challenges, both in taking on new audit duties assigned to us by the Oireachtas including the audits of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and in auditing and reporting on the 379 existing accounts,'' said the head of the C&AG, John Buckley.

Irish Independent

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