Struggling for supremacy: The case of UK public audit institutions

Mary Bowerman, Christopher Humphrey, David Owen

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In recent years, there has been concern over the diversity of audit practice in the UK public sector. In response to these concerns the four constituent national audit agencies (the National Audit Office (NAO), Audit Commission, Scottish Accounts Commission and the Northern Ireland Audit office) set up a Public Audit Forum to provide a focus for developmental thinking in relation to public audit. The government also established a review (the Sharman review) to examine audit and accountability arrangements for central government departments. The review has recommended that the NAO be given greater access to companies and other bodies in receipt of substantial amounts of public money and that auditors should be responsible for the external validation of performance information. Behind such consultations and recommendations, however, there are a number of major, ongoing "turf-battles" between the public audit agencies themselves and between the agencies and central government. Such battles are deserving of more attention, as they highlight some fundamental weaknesses in the public audit function, especially with respect to its capacity to operate in a manner independent of the government. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


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