The Scottish Commission for Public Audit

2nd Report 2000

Audit Scotland Budget 2001-2002

SP Paper 189

Session 1 (2000)


Remit and Membership

Malcolm Chisholm (Resigned 9 November 2000)
Patricia Ferguson (Convener)
Annabel Goldie
Keith Raffan
Andrew Welsh

Secretary to the Commission:
Callum Thomson

Assistant Secretary to the Commission:
Seán Wixted


The Commission reports to the Parliament as followsó

  1. The Commission met on 14 and 28 November 2000 to consider Audit Scotlandís budget proposals for 2001/02, as it is required to do under section 11(9) of the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000.
  2. On 14 November the Commission took evidence from Mr Robert Black, Auditor General for Scotland, He was supported by Russell Frith, Director of Audit Strategy, Audit Scotland and Diane McGiffen, Director of Corporate Services, Audit Scotland.
  3. In our report on Audit Scotlandís 2000/01 budget, we noted that it was difficult to forecast with precision the expenditure of a new organisation created from what was effectively a merger of two existing organisations which was also faced with taking on new responsibilities. Since its establishment, good progress has been made in addressing many of the issues which Audit Scotland has encountered in its first months of operation, but in other areas it is clear that the organisation is still in a period of adjustment.
  4. We consider that one of these areas is Audit Scotlandís budget. Currently the Commission is not in a position to conduct as thorough a review of Audit Scotlandís budget as we would wish. This is largely the result of the format of the budget documentation that was submitted to us. The Auditor General has acknowledged our concerns in this matter and we are confident that the Commission and Audit Scotland will work together to ensure that budget submissions, in future, will fully meet out needs.
  5. In our earlier report, we raised concerns about Audit Scotlandís VAT status. We note that negotiations are still on-going with HM Customs and Excise. We look forward to an expeditious resolution of this issue.
  6. We note that Audit Scotland is currently in the process of establishing internal procedures in relation to corporate management. The Auditor
  7. General informed us that the Board of Audit Scotland is actively considering the appointment of a fifth member to the Board. We consider that this appointment should take place soon and we can see the advantage Ė in terms of broadening the experience of the Board Ė if this person were to come from the private sector. We would expect to be advised of the appointment process for this position.

  8. We also note that the Board is considering establishing an Independent Review Panel, to fulfil an internal role within the organisation similar to that of an Audit Committee. We would welcome such a measure and we think it would be advisable if the majority of the members came from outwith Audit Scotlandís structure. Again, we would expect to be advised of the appointment process for members to this Panel.
  9. Recommendation

  10. We draw the Parliamentís attention to the points raised above and we re-iterate that we will conduct a more comprehensive review of Audit Scotlandís budget position next year. Nevertheless, we consider Audit Scotlandís budget proposals are, on the whole, sound and accordingly recommend that Audit Scotlandís bid for a net budget of £4.3m should be approved by the Parliament.