11 June 2004
A series of system failures, flaws in working relationships and problems over the introduction of a new accounting system led to the qualification of the Scottish Parliament's accounts for 2002/03, a report has concluded.
Following an inquiry into issues raised by auditor general Bob Black, the Parliament's audit committee this week voiced its concern over failures in the internal financial controls of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, responsible for the overall management of the Parliament.
However, in its report, the committee emphasised that there had been no suggestion or evidence of fraud. It also welcomed a range of improvements already made to accounting arrangements.
Committee convener Brian Monteith said factors included difficulties with the introduction of a new Scottish Executive accounting system.
These were exacerbated by a series of system failures along with flaws in the working and procedural relationships between the finance department and the accountable officer, Paul Grice.
Monteith added: 'The accountable officer is ultimately responsible for ensuring a clean audit certificate, and we expect him to do everything within his power to ensure that this is achieved for the 2003/04 accounts and for future accounts.'
The audit committee's investigation followed a report by Black highlighting shortcomings in the Parliament's internal controls.
These included unreconciled entries in the accounts. While pointing out that these involved only a small sum – just £300 – Black disclosed that the combined value of 290 underlying transactions that had not been matched was £5.3m.
In its report this week, the audit committee stressed that, since then, the number of outstanding items has been considerably reduced.
The committee also said a delay in the appointment of a permanent financial controller may have been a contributory factor.
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said the audit committee had acknowledged that the action plans put in place by parliamentary officials in January this year had addressed the issues raised in the auditor general's report.