Helen Brand OBE, the chief executive of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), welcomes the review of financial management in government, published today by the Treasury.
Helen Brand comments: 'Strong financial leadership is essential for driving even higher standards in Whitehall, and the proposed role of a Director General for spending and finance - combining the head of the government finance profession and head of public spending - has the potential to bring strong and visible leadership for financial management that will allow finance to better support decision-making across Whitehall.
'In a time of financial constraint, it’s pleasing that the Government recognises the value of the finance profession for driving through change and delivering value for money. As the report says, financial management is on an improving trajectory but more needs to be done, including maintaining the skills of finance professionals that work in Whitehall.'
ACCA says there are many examples of good financial management practice across government, but that the main problem is the lack of consistency across Whitehall; Ms Brand considers that a CFO or DG would bring more stability.
Helen Brand also believes the proposed risk based approach to financial control across government departments is a much needed balanced process. Ms Brand adds: 'This proposal would ensure that financial decisions are delegated to those with the greatest local knowledge and access to relevant information and who are best placed to judge the value of the expenditure and corresponding opportunities and risks.
'It seems sensible that for those government departments making sustained financial improvements and instilling cultures where value for money can thrive that they will benefit from ‘a light touch’ approach from a CFO sitting within Treasury.
'Over the last two decades financial management across government has improved significantly and the Treasury’s report’s proposals, if implemented, will be helpful for financial management stepping up a level.'