The Public Audit (Wales) Bill was introduced to parliament in November 2004. If the Bill receives Royal Assent a single public audit body will be established for Wales from 1 April 2005. The body, to be known as the Wales Audit Office, will be headed by a full-time auditor general for Wales. It will undertake the existing functions of the auditor general and most of the functions of the Audit Commission in Wales. Recruitment for a full-time auditor general to succeed Sir John from 1 April next will be by open competition.
'Sir John's guidance and insight has earned him enormous respect and has played a major part in what has been achieved to date. Sir John's re-appointment means that he will be able to play a key role in preparing for the establishment of a single public audit body for Wales from April 2005.'
Sir John said: 'I am delighted to accept the extension of my appointment as auditor general for Wales. I am proud to be able to continue to play my part in improving public services in Wales. With the expected creation of the Wales Audit Office on 1 April 2005, there is a busy time ahead of us. I will carry on my efforts to ensure that public money is spent wisely on behalf of the people of Wales.'
The post of auditor general for Wales was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998. The auditor general is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the secretary of state for Wales in consultation with th e National Assembly.
The auditor general's post is funded by the National Assembly. He uses the services of the National Audit Office in Wales to discharge his functions. He is responsible for auditing the accounts of the National Assembly and other Assembly funded public bodies. He is also empowered to undertake examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the assembly and its sponsored bodies carry out their functions and report his findings to the assembly.
Should the Public Audit (Wales) Bill currently before parliament receive Royal Assent the functions of the auditor general will be extended to include most of the functions currently undertaken by the Audit Commission in Wales. He will take on statutory responsibility for the audit of NHS bodies in Wales and will become responsible for local government audit arrangements (although he will be unable to become the financial auditor of a local government body in a personal capacity).
The auditor general and his staff will be known as the Wales Audit Office. Staff of the National Audit Office and the Audit Commission in Wales will transfer to the new organisation.