BanknotesWGA is a term that you will frequently hear across the office. For most of us, it has become a standard acronym in our audit vocabulary but if you join the office for the first time, these three letters will probably don’t mean much to you. So, what does WGA stand for and why is it so important to us?

WGA is the acronym for Whole of Government accounts, and we published the latest report for the 2012-13 financial year back in June. These accounts show the financial information for all the bodies and other organisations within the public sector in one account. It therefore gives an overview of what Government spends and what assets and liabilities it has.

The NAO audits this set of accounts, like most public sector accounts, and issues an audit opinion on whether they are accurate enough. If the errors found are greater than the required level of accuracy, known as “materiality”, the audit opinion is said to be “qualified”.

Producing the WGA requires the adding up of all the individual accounts (of which there are thousands!) and subtracting the balances which exist between each of the bodies. This means that the balances that remain in the account only relate to transactions outside of Government.

I’ve not worked on the WGA audit before, but I have been involved in auditing the return provided by the Department of Health for WGA. This process mainly involves checking that the information the Department provides to HM Treasury for them to product the WGA accounts reflects the figures published in the Department’s accounts for the year.

The audit process for the WGA accounts therefore starts just after the individual accounts such as the Department of Health’s have been completed and laid before Parliament. Due to the differing timescales for the bodies that are included in WGA, the whole audit cycle for this account can be quite long!

If you want to find out more about WGA, more information is available on the website and from the latest accounts.

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