By Frazer Towers, Audit Scotland Work Placement Student
I am soon to begin my third year at St Andrews University where I am studying Economics and Management. I was fortunate to spend four weeks with Audit Scotland at their Edinburgh office working alongside the team conducting their performance audit of the Forth Replacement Crossing. I wanted to spend time at Audit Scotland because of the hugely important role they play in overseeing Scottish public life. Owing to their diverse range of audits, I was able to work alongside a team in an area that really interested me and on a high-profile, exciting project that I had followed in the news while it was under construction.
My time at Audit Scotland was split into two blocks of two weeks, one in January and the other in March, to fit around my university schedule. In January, I joined the team after the background scoping work had been completed. I carried out work looking at the business case for the replacement crossing and whether it followed relevant guidance.
When I re-joined the audit in March, the team were coming towards the end of the fieldwork stage. I reviewed the benefits realisation plan to see if it was in line with government standards. I returned at a particularly interesting point in the audit when the audit team were discussing their findings and agreeing the headline messages for the final report. I attended a meeting of the external advisory group, which was made up of senior staff from Transport Scotland and representatives from other organisations with relevant experience. It was fantastic to hear the senior Transport Scotland officials explain their insider view as to how the project had been conducted.
My time at the audit flew by as the work was interesting and engaging. The staff I worked with were exceptionally welcoming and I was genuinely sorry to leave at the end of my four weeks! I took a lot away from the experience, particularly in understanding how Audit Scotland conduct their performance audits. I intend to use their principles to influence how I approach some of my university work. In addition, the exposure to government guidance for major projects was fascinating as this is an area I would like to learn more about and perhaps work in as my future career. Thank you to all the staff who helped make the experience so insightful.
You can read the full report on the Forth Replacement Crossing here.