Home Office pins Whitehall farce on IT implementation difficulties.


The Home Office has responded to damning criticism of its financial management by the chairman of the government's committee of public accounts. Its finance chiefs were forced to issue a public statement after Edward Leigh censured the department for its "spectacular failure" to produce unqualified accounts for 2004-05.

The National Audit Office (NAO) had revealed that the Home Office's accounts were in such poor shape that it couldn't confirm their fairness. An NAO spokesman told FM that the accounts of three other government departments had been qualified, but in the Home Office's case it was "relatively rare for there to be so little confidence in the figures or the underlying mechanisms that we can't form an opinion on whether they are true and accurate".

In its defence, the Home Office blamed the introduction of a new accounting system for the catalogue of errors highlighted in the audit. Problems with the implementation meant that the department was unable to reconcile its cash position. In one case it had to make adjustments of 946m [pounds sterling] to correct a 3m [pounds sterling] discrepancy. "A great deal of work has been done over recent months to put right the problems...

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