Resource accounts highlight Assemblys basic errors

1 Feb 01
The Welsh Assembly laid itself open to the risk of fraud by failing to perform the most basic accounting requirements, according to a scathing report this week from the National Audit Office.

02 February 2001

Officials at the Assembly were criticised by the watchdog for their decision not to complete bank reconciliations from July 1 1999, the first day of their administration. The omission came to light when the NAO analysed the Assembly's accounts for the year 1999/2000.

'The old Welsh Office always did their reconciliations on time. The same staff transferred to the Assembly, but from the date of transfer they took the decision to stop doing the reconciliations,' said Ian Summers, director of NAO Wales. 'Bank reconciliations are a fundamental control over any accounting system.'

Summers also criticised the Assembly for delays in preparing the accounts, which were in two versions – resource and cash-based. An account for audit due in July 2000 was not produced until the middle of October.

Part of the problem was a lack of experienced and qualified accountants who could handle the more complicated procedures. Resource accounts require the creation of a balance sheet and, hence, a valuation for all fixed assets.

In Wales this required putting a valuation on motorways and trunk roads, including the worth of the M4 over its Welsh stretch.

'They have got accountants all over the place in the Assembly. But what we are concerned about is the number of staff they have got at the right time and in the right place dealing with their own accounting operations,' added Summers.

A spokesman for the Assembly blamed the problems on the transfer of functions in July and the need to prepare both resource and cash accounts. He emphasised that daily checks had been made on the accounts.

'No errors were found and the reconciliations were up to date before the accounts were certified. The reconciliations will be kept up to date in future,' he added.

  • The Ministry of Defence is said to be 'dealing well' with the introduction of resource accounts, despite having to value £90bn worth of assets.

    An NAO report praised the MoD's efforts while admitting that it had 'yet to produce accurate resource accounts'. There were problems with the valuation of married quarters and of land and buildings identified for disposal.


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