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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

What is the scope of your work?

Our audits check whether public bodies manage their finances to the highest standards and achieve the best possible value for public money. We help public bodies to continue to improve, while providing assurance to elected representatives, appointed board members and the public that public money is being spent properly, efficiently and effectively.

How do Audit Scotland, the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General for Scotland work together?

The Accounts Commission is responsible for auditing councils, police forces and fire & rescue services. The Auditor General is responsible for auditing most other Scottish public bodies including the Scottish Executive and its agencies. Audit Scotland works on behalf of both the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General, so all three bodies share resources. Enquiries should be directed via Audit Scotland. More information about the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General can be accessed in the About Us section of this website.

How is your work reported?

Auditors report the detailed findings of audits directly to the bodies they audit. They also produce annual audit reports for each public body audited to show how they perform during each financial year. The reports are based on the annual accounts.

We also produce performance reports that look at particular issues to provide an overview or detailed study - either in an individual organisation or across a sector. We have a rolling programme of audits of Best Value – something that councils are now legally obliged to pursue. We also produce performance indicators about councils, police forces, fire & rescue services. Publications are available in the Our work section of our website.

How do you carry out your work?

By means of fieldwork and detailed study. We liaise with audited bodies and other contacts for meetings, we review accounts and other documents. We produce reports and also verbally discuss our findings. We have 255 staff (as of 31 March 2012) based all over Scotland. We have offices in Edinburgh, East Kilbride and Inverness.

How do you choose what to investigate?

During the course of our annual audits, our auditors consider anything which may be significant. As part of this process they routinely explore issues for further background information and clarification. The Auditor General or the Accounts Commission may then decide to investigate further.

We cannot pass judgement on policy decisions, such as the level of funding going into hospitals and council services, but we can look at the processes for making decisions and how these are implemented.

Our performance audit programme covers key areas of public interest and public policy. We develop our forward work programme after extensive consultation with stakeholders, audited bodies and the public in order to target areas where we can support improvement in public service.

Who can ask Audit Scotland to investigate something?

We’re a public body here to serve the public’s best interests. Anyone can contact us.

Where can I find information on my council’s performance?

Our Best value reports, Performance indicator information and annual audit reports.

Where can I find information on my health board’s performance?

In our annual audit reports section.

How do I complain about a public organisation?

Issues should be raised first with the organisation that you are concerned about – they will often have a complaints process that you can use.

If you are dissatisfied with the response you receive, and continue to have concerns about the misuse of public funds, you can write to us, explaining your concerns. Please provide us with evidence in support of your concerns and include details of any contact you have had with the organisation. If you have trouble writing, phone us on 0131 625 1500. If you are unsure as to whether we are the right organisation to deal with your concerns you can visit us to learn more about organisations dealing with complaints about Scottish public bodies or phone us for advice. We may recommend that you write to us or we may suggest other organisations that are better placed to deal with your concerns. Please read our complaints leaflet for more details about our correspondence procedure.

What are the statutory powers of the Auditor General/ the Accounts Commission/Audit Scotland?

The Auditor General is appointed by the Crown and is independent. She can make recommendations to audited bodies, including the Scottish Executive, and she reports to the Scottish Parliament. The Accounts Commission can make recommendations to audited bodies, including the Scottish Executive. It can also hold hearings, although it is extremely unusual for it to do so.

Is your work publicly available?

Most of our work is publicly available. In addition to our publications, reports prepared for the Auditor General are discussed at Parliament’s Public Audit Committee. Councils’ annual audit reports are discussed at council meetings.

I can’t find the report I’m looking for on your website. Who can I contact about it?

Our publications team can advise. Please tel: 0131 625 1500.

What issues are you planning to look at in the future?

You can view our forward work programme for performance reports here on this website. Planning documents for the audits of local authorities, health bodies and central government audits are available at:

 

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