Data advances ‘promise public audit transformation’

12 Oct 18

Data analytics are transforming public audit, NAO executive leader Max Tse told a conference on technology and public finance.

The event, organised by CIPFA, coincided with the publication of the latest edition of PF Perspectives, Intelligent Finance: making technology work for the public sector.

‘It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this transformation,” said Tse.

Analytics and mapping were impacting the speed and volume of data processed. But the “real win” was for business processes such as payroll, accounting tools and risk management.

The impact of new technology on the finance function would be significant, but would evolve relatively slowly, he said. The key thing was to skill up the profession for the challenges ahead.

The conference also heard from Clare Gardiner, the new director of engagement at the National Cyber Security Centre.

Referring to the 2017 WannaCry attack on the NHS and other public sector cyber attacks, Gardiner said, “Too many of us are not doing the things that are fundamental. We do need to be vigilant.”

This view was echoed by Jos Creese, principal analyst at IT provider Eduserv, which recently conducted a survey with CIPFA on the role of finance in digital change.

It found that only 58% of public sector organisations have a digital strategy, and less than a third operate a “digital-first” approach to new initiatives. Creese is currently involved in a stock-take of cyber risk preparedness across local government.

Other speakers, including Ofwat senior director Lisa Commane emphasised the level of cultural change needed to achieve digital transformation.

Paul Maltby, chief digital officer at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, talked about ways the department is supporting councils going through digital transformation.

The PF Perspectives includes essays by Tse and Gardiner, as well as local government minister Rishi Sunak and RSA chief executive Matthew Taylor.

 

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