How stable are Scotland’s finances?

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By Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland

It’s in our nature as humans to pay attention to immediate threats to our way of life. It’s much harder to plan for scenarios that we imagine as distant. A complex threat like climate change is the classic example. We’ve heard about the risks for decades but it’s taken an extraordinary teenage girl from Sweden to galvanise public protest, and put pressure on politicians to do more in the here and now.

Continue reading How stable are Scotland’s finances?

What are the procurement fraud red flags to look out for?

By Angela Canning, Audit Director

Auditors are naturally sceptical people. We are mindful that having systems and processes in place to safeguard public money and deter fraud doesn’t always mean that procedures can’t break down, aren’t kept up-to-date or that people won’t try to find ways to cheat the system for their personal benefit.

Continue reading What are the procurement fraud red flags to look out for?

Supporting leaders to lead can help cure bad behaviours

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By Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland

We’ve all felt it – that sense that the culture’s not quite right in an organisation. It can be hard to pin down, but the tell-tale signs are well-known: poor communication, top-down management, disengaged staff, a lack of trust, and bad behaviours like bullying going unchallenged by senior leaders. All too soon it can turn into ‘the way we do things around here.’

Scotland’s public services haven’t been immune. The early years of the Scottish Police Authority were marked by poor governance and difficult relationships, a legacy which is only now being overcome. And the recent Sturrock report into bullying and harassment at NHS Highland found that hundreds of people had experienced inappropriate behaviour.

Continue reading Supporting leaders to lead can help cure bad behaviours

Help improve public services in Scotland as a graduate trainee

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By Mark Taylor, Audit Director, Audit Scotland

With continuing pressures on public services, public audit really has never been more important. Our graduate trainees are a hugely important part of our work and life at Audit Scotland. From day one you’ll get hands-on-work experience and play an active part in our work auditing £40 billion of public money, which funds the vital public services you, your family and friends use every day. Continue reading Help improve public services in Scotland as a graduate trainee

The journey to becoming a chartered accountant

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Applications for Audit Scotland’s Graduate Trainee Scheme are now open.  Our four-year scheme provides training and development, with plenty of hands-on work experience and support as you complete your Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification with ICAS. So what’s the teaching element of the scheme like? What would you study and what exams would you take? We asked Graham Foster from ICAS to tell you a bit more… Continue reading The journey to becoming a chartered accountant

Why we’re confident, but not complacent about delivering quality

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By Fiona Kordiak, Director of Audit Services and CIPFA Scotland chair

“If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen” was one of former US president Harry S Truman’s celebrated sayings.

As auditors we can’t complain when we ourselves come under scrutiny. And the spotlight has been on audit recently due to controversies in the corporate sector.

While public audit hasn’t been involved or implicated, it has been a timely reminder to ensure our house is in order.

At Audit Scotland we’re confident but not complacent. The foundations of public audit in Scotland – independent appointment of auditors that are rotated every five years, a wider scope of audit that goes beyond the numbers, and reporting in public – stand us in good stead.

But we need to continually review what we do.

The Audit Scotland annual report gives detail of the internal and external checks in place to ensure the quality of our work, plus the international standards and the Code of Audit Practice that we follow.

More recently we have also set up a professional support team to provide guidance and advice to auditors at the sharp end and that’s part of the process – we are always learning on how we can improve.

As chair this year of CIPFA Scotland, I’m keen that this message goes out to all working in the public sector in Scotland.

Professional scepticism is the cornerstone of our work.  It’s how we ensure public money is well spent.

And the reality is that high-quality public sector audit that’s independent and evidence-based has never been more important.

Learning and sharing from across the globe

International SMBy Peter Worsdale, International Liaison Manager, Audit Scotland

This continues to be a challenging time for Scotland as the country takes on new financial responsibilities and public services continue to evolve. That’s why it’s important we continue connecting, sharing and learning from our colleagues in public audit from around the globe to help us develop our audit work. Continue reading Learning and sharing from across the globe

Medium-term financial strategy: A step backwards?

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By Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland

The impact of Scotland’s new financial powers is now starting to hit home.

Publication of the Scottish Fiscal Commission’s latest forecasts and the Scottish Government’s medium-term financial strategy triggered critical commentary from the respected Fraser of Allander Institute and the Parliament’s own Information Centre (SPICe), and testy exchanges with the Cabinet Secretary in the Finance and Constitution Committee.

A forecast budget gap of £1 billion over the next three years makes some level of politicking inevitable, but this issue is above party politics.

What matters is that the Government has a plan in place to deal with all eventualities. But as Fraser of Allander has said, the new medium-term financial strategy is thin on detail. At a time of tightening budgets, that’s a matter of concern for everyone that benefits from public services. Continue reading Medium-term financial strategy: A step backwards?

Scotland’s public sector challenges are everyone’s responsibility

By Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland

as_annual_report_1819_cgardnerTwenty years on from the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, much is made of Scotland’s distinctive approach to public services. There’s no doubt that there are some real successes, like the Scottish Government’s approach to social security, where the rhetoric of dignity, respect and fairness has so far been matched by the reality. But Scotland is facing the same headwinds that are affecting public services all over the world. And we are more exposed than ever before, as the Scottish Government is now responsible for taxes that fund around 40% of devolved spending.

Continue reading Scotland’s public sector challenges are everyone’s responsibility

How can audit break down barriers?

Caroline Twitter ProfileBy Caroline Gardner

Pausing to take stock and plan ahead can feel like an overwhelming task in our current climate of increased demand for services, tight public finances, and constitutional uncertainty.

At Audit Scotland, the annual refresh of our work programme gives us the opportunity to consider how our audit work reflects the priorities and challenges of Scotland’s public sector.

Continue reading How can audit break down barriers?