RIEPS and Audit Commission clarifications

A couple of follow ups to previous pieces...

In our '100 days of procurement' post we said "Likely that support to local government procurement initiatives (e.g. the RIEPS) will be abolished"...

Whilst we believe it is still 'likely' that there will be major changes to the RIEPS (regional improvement and efficiency partnerships), a source has pointed out that at least one of the regional RIEP-type organisations has had its funding confirmed for 2010-11, and looks like it will survive in some form after this.  So it looks like the picture might be quite different around the country; we will keep eyes and ears open for more news.

Michael O'Higgins, Chairman of the Audit Commission (abolished by Eric Pickles recently) has published  a letter to Pickles with a strong rebuttal of some of the claims made against the Commission.  For instance, the reported 'days at the races' were training events held using conference facilities at Newmarket Races. As the Commission letter says:

The £8,000 payment to Newmarket was for three events training 90 officers from local authorities and the NHS – around £67 a head. And not a horse in sight!

One does wonder where the exaggerated stories came from in this case; was the media looking for a headline, or was there deliberate briefing against the Commission going on?  A good lesson there actually; don't believe everything you read, even here! There is still talk in the O'Higgins note of auditors forming their own company:

"We noted with great interest your suggestion of an employee buy-out to form a mutual organisation and will pursue this avenue energetically"

But as we said in our previous piece, I can't see where the value is in a Newco that would have to bid against established firms for auditing work?  We may therefore see employees pushing for guaranteed contracts I suspect to make the venture viable.  Without that, who would finance the new venture?  And based on my admittedly limited sample of one potential buyer, I can't really see large accounting firms rushing in with take-over bids.  I would suggest that, unfortuntaley for staff and taxpayers, the budgeting for mass redundancies should continue...

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