We are open signThe particularly keen-eyed among you may have noticed that there has been a dearth of posts over the past few months but I’m here to explain why and to announce that we’re now back in commission.

The big reason that the blog has gone silent is the strangely named “purdah”.

Purdah is a word which is generally used to refer to the practice of screening women from men or strangers, especially by means of a curtain. It is also the word used to denote the pre-election period where those connected with Parliament are restricted in their ability to interact with the media due to concerns around the impact it might have on the outcome of the election.

Given the NAO’s ties to Parliament, this also applies to the work we do. We publish no value for money (VFM) reports and generally try to keep a low-profile in the lead up to an election in order to both comply with Cabinet Office guidance around purdah and to maintain the independent status which is so vital to the NAO’s work and credibility.

Maybe the grad blog isn’t the world’s most politically motivated and influential outpost on the internet but we felt it best to comply and have taken a well deserved break which stretched a bit further than purdah demands – by more than three months, actually.

That’s because we’ve just had the busiest period of the year for the NAO – the final audit season.

Final audit is a big rush for us because almost all accounts within government (from departments and regulators to tiny museums) finish their accounting year on 31 March. They then prepare their accounts and, for the majority of audits, we aim to issue our audit certificate before Parliament breaks for recess – its big summer holiday.

As you can probably tell from the final audit timescale, we tend to be rushed off our feet between April and recess, which this year fell on 21 July. In this period, we feverishly attempt to complete work on all our accounts and, inevitably, battle other issues along the way. Given how busy we are at this time of year, it can be really tough to secure a spare moment to blog so we decided to stay off the air a little longer and come back fully refreshed.

In short, now that Parliament’s been elected and gone away again for its summer break, we’re back from behind the curtain and ready to tell you even more about what to expect from the grad scheme and a career at the NAO.

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