Magazine article Public Finance

Home Office Vows to Overhaul Accounts

Magazine article Public Finance

Home Office Vows to Overhaul Accounts

Article excerpt

The Home Office's head of finance has vowed to implement a 'world-class' accounting system after auditors this week qualified the department's figures for the second year running.

Helen Kilpatrick told Public Finance she was confident that the department would rid itself of teething problems with a new accounting system in time for its 2006/07 submission - and 'have in place a world-class system of financial management by 2007/08'.

Kilpatrick was speaking in the wake of criticism from the National Audit Office, which qualified the Home Office's accounts for 2005/06 on December 11.

Auditors expressed concerns that contractors' invoices had been duplicated, staff payroll records were inadequate and that officials did not approach the paymaster general quickly enough to access reserves to pay for vital services - leading to a 'technical overdraft' of £250m.

Auditors qualified the Home Offices 2004/05 accounts after the department failed to file them on time - and the NAO acknowledged that last year's problems had a 'knock-on effect' this year.

Edward Leigh, chair of the Commons' Public Accounts Committee, said that although officials had filed a full set of accounts on time this year, he was 'seriously concerned at the flimsy grip [it]. …

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