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TMCNet:  Public audit must improve to prevent waste of taxpayers' money [Bizcommunity (South Africa)]

[April 14, 2014]

Public audit must improve to prevent waste of taxpayers' money [Bizcommunity (South Africa)]

(Bizcommunity (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Public audit performs a crucial role in both preventing ongoing waste of taxpayers' money and boosting society's trust and confidence about how governments spend public money. This is according to a recent report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).


Consequences of the 2008 financial crisis continue to gravely impact the globe, but the crisis has spurred renewed thought among public auditors. In several countries public sector finance is undergoing harsh adjustments, particularly in spending and reductions in social support.Disastrous projects "Audit has to move forward to test its efficiency in how money is raised, as well as how it is spent. Implementation of major projects, particularly in IT and defence, is typically disastrous. Both result in the waste of millions, if not billions, of pounds of taxpayers' money," says Margaret Hodge, chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee.

The new ACCA report offers a collection of upbeat reflections regarding the public auditor's role in delivering accountability and improving public services. The report gathered views from academics, policy advisers and public auditor generals from Australia to Jamaica, Scotland and Bhutan. The authors of the report also discuss issues such as improving public engagement and strengthening scrutiny and public service effectiveness. A number of proposals are made regarding closer liaisons with all those concerned with scrutiny and public service. Sub-standard accountability "They say there is a need for a public audit to improve public awareness engagement, strengthen scrutiny and public service effectiveness," says Gillian Fawcett, head of Public Sector at ACCA. "Auditors must penetrate beyond. The private sector is now heavily involved in delivering public service in the United Kingdom, but its accountability is sub-standard. If we want to better manage service failure risks and boost public trust, then accountability and transparency need strengthening.

"Auditors must intervene earlier in the processes by which money is allocated to departments. A strong argument has been that it is only by doing this that problems can be nipped in the bud. Providing assurance in the early stage of a project can limit the administrative failures, preventing them from spiralling into significant value for money failures," Fawcett concludes.

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