19 February 2013
Each organisation in central Government (Department, Agency, Trading Fund, NHS body, NDPB or Arm’s Length Body) must have an Accounting Officer - usually the senior official in the organisation. The Accounting Officer in an organisation should be supported by a Board structured in line with the Corporate Governance Code for Central Government Departments.
The Accounting Officer acts within the authority of the Minister. Accounting Officers must be able to assure Parliament and the public of high standards of probity in the management of public funds.
This will include the organisations governance statement; decision-making and financial management assurances when considering, promoting and safeguarding regularity, propriety, affordability, sustainability, risk, and value for money across the public sector; and accounting accurately, and transparently, for the organisation’s financial position and transactions. It is the Accounting Officer who has to appear before the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) to give evidence on their Department’s performance.
- Government Resources and Accounts Act (GRAA) 2000
- Government Trading Funds Act (GFTA) 1973, (as amended in the Government Trading Act 1990 and the Finance Acts 1991 and 1993)
The Treasury appoints the permanent head of each central Government Department to be its Accounting Officer. If there are Additional Accounting Officers in a Department, then the permanent head is the Principal Accounting Officer.
Within Departments, the Treasury appoints the Chief Executive of each Trading Fund to be its Accounting Officer, and Additional Accounting Officers for a defined part of the Departments business.
The Principal Accounting Officer, of each Department, would appoint the permanent heads of its Executive Agencies as Agency Accounting Officers; of ALBs and NDPBs as Accounting Officers; and at their discretion, Additional Accounting Officers for a defined part of their Departments business.
Any Accounting Officer appointments not made by the Treasury should be notified to the Treasury Officer of Accounts. The Treasury maintains policy oversight throughout. Departments / Organisations should also notify the Treasury Officer of Accounts to any changes to Accounting Officer designations.
Information on the Accounting Officer’s role and responsibilities can be found in chapter 3 of the Treasury guidance publication
If you have any questions on Accounting Officer appointments, please contact: Adrian Baxter on 020 7270 5498 or Madeleine Smith on 020 7270 5784.
Accounting Officer appointment letter templates
For Machinery of Government Changes, please refer to the Cabinet Office Best Practice Handbook. Part 2 - Finance and Resource Transfers - advises on Accounting Officer Appointments.
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