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Accounts Commission

Work programme

The Commission’s work programme outlines the main business the Commission is likely to consider, and highlights the work expected in 2011.

Reports arising from the annual audit

The Controller of Audit considers matters arising from the audit of local government bodies and may choose to report to the Commission under section 102 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 on matters that he considers should be brought to public attention. The Commission may also require the Controller of Audit to produce a report.

You can find statutory reports produced under these powers on the publications section of this site.

The Commission also requires the Controller of Audit to prepare a report providing an annual overview of the local authority audits.

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Best Value work in councils

The Commission considers reports by the Controller of Audit on the performance by authorities of their statutory duties to secure Best Value. You can find reports and other details of the audit approach on the Best Value section of our site. The National Scrutiny Plan for 2010/11 is expected to result in Best Value reports on two councils (North Ayrshire and Stirling) being submitted to the Commission by the Controller of Audit in early 2011. The Plan will be revised in Spring 2011, and is likely to result in further Best Value reports being submitted later in the year.

Police Best Value audits

The Commission has also developed a joint approach with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS) to Best Value audits of police authorities and forces. Two pilot police Best Value audit reports (on Tayside Police and Northern Constabulary) have been completed. Reports by the Controller of Audit and HMICS on other police audits are expected to be submitted to the Commission in the course of 2011.

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Best Value in the fire and rescue service

The Commission recently considered its approach to the development of Best Value audits for fire and rescue services. The Commission aims to develop audit work that provides appropriate benchmarking and service performance information, while minimising the scrutiny burden. You can find the Commission’s consultation on proposals on the Best Value & Scrutiny section of our site. The Commission is likely to consider final proposals for the approach early in 2011.

Performance audit programme

The Commission has powers to undertake or promote performance audits. These focus on examining particular value for money issues, either in an individual organisation or across a sector.

In mid-2010 the Commission reviewed, with the Auditor General, the forward programme of performance audits and agreed a forward work programme for 2011/12. Draft reports on some of these performance audits will be considered by the Commission during 2011.

You can find previous performance audit reports on the reports section of our site.

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How Councils Work series

The Commission has also agreed to publish a new series of reports named ‘How councils work: an improvement series for councillors and officers’. This is a new style of Commission report that will draw mainly on existing audit material to provide examples of good practice and to signpost other sources of information, guidance and advice with the overall aim of supporting improvement.

You can find the first report in this series on the local government national reports section of our site. The Commission is expected to consider further reports in this series during 2011.

Statutory Performance Indicators (SPI's)

The Commission has a statutory duty to define performance information that councils must publish locally, and to do so by means of an annual direction to councils. The direction must be published at least three months prior to the financial year or period for which the data has to be collected, and so the direction is normally agreed and published by the Commission in December each year.

You can find further details on the performance information section of our site.

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Scrutiny co-ordination

The Commission has been undertaking a coordinating and gatekeeping role on strategic scrutiny of local government. Three members currently sit on a scrutiny co-ordination strategic group, comprising the heads of all of the local government scrutiny bodies, and this is chaired by the Chair of the Commission.

Audit Scotland is working with local scrutiny partners on behalf of the Commission to review the 32 local Assurance and Improvement Plans. The Commission is expected to consider a revised National Scrutiny Schedule for 2011/12 in the Spring of 2011.

You can find further details on the Improving scrutiny section of our site.

Other work

The Commission also considers a variety of other issues:

  • In the first half of 2011 the Commission will be considering the final stages of the process for procurement of auditors for the five-year period from autumn 2011.
  • An annual report on audit quality is expected to be considered by the Commission in the late Spring each year.
  • The Commission is also required to consider the fees for audit, and a report on this will be submitted in the autumn of each year in conjunction with the Audit Scotland Board’s consideration of the budget for the following financial year.
  • The Commission also considers less frequent specialist reports – such as those carried out under its duties on the national fraud initiative and on the benefits performance audit.
  • Each year the Commission will also consider its annual report and an annual equality review. You can find previous annual reports on the Corporate Publications section of our site. Previous equalities reports are on the Diversity and Equality section of our site.
  • From time to time, reports may also be submitted to allow the Commission to consider other issues that may have implications for its role and operations – for example briefings on legislative change or public services reform.

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