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Changes needed to enable Auditor General to seek extension to statutory deadlines when auditing Accounts

26/05/2017

The Auditor General for Wales (AGW) should have the ability to extend statutory deadlines for reporting on accounts after a ‘blue moon type of occasion’, according to a National Assembly committee

The Finance Committee has been examining how the Auditor General missed the statutory deadline for reporting on the 2015/16 accounts for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) by more than two months.

In evidence to the Committee, the AGW said he needed further information on the awarding of a timber contract worth £39 million, before being able to form an opinion on the Accounts.

Allowing adequate time for third parties to respond to the information requests meant the statutory deadline was not met.  The AGW said this sort of situation in the auditing of accounts was very rare.

While accepting that the situation with NRW is a rare occurrence, the Committee also recognised that there is a need for the AGW to be able to extend the statutory four month deadline for reporting on accounts in some circumstances, and changes should be made to enable this.

“The reason for missing the statutory deadline for reporting on NRW’s accounts was described by the Auditor General as a ‘blue moon type of occasion’,” said Simon Thomas AM, Chair of the Finance Committee.

“What it has highlighted is that there needs to be a mechanism to extend the statutory deadline, as there is in England, should such an occurrence happen again.

Natural Resources Wales’s accounts are being considered by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Nick Ramsay AM, said:

“The role of the Finance Committee is to have oversight of the Auditor General for Wales, and the Wales Audit Office.

“The Public Accounts Committee is considering the issues raised by the Auditor General in his report on the NRW Accounts.

“We have taken evidence on this matter and will report in due course.”

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