4. RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
9 Annex A: The Financial Memorandum
10 Appendix A: Letter of Appointment of Chief Executive as Accounting Officer and Treasury’s Accounting Officer Memorandum
On 14 March 1991, the then Home Secretary announced the establishment of a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice, under the chairmanship of Viscount Runciman. Many significant reforms have followed from that Royal Commission’s wide-ranging July 1993 report. One of the most important reforms is the establishment of an independent body, to review and investigate suspected miscarriages of justice, and to refer any cases where there is a real possibility that the conviction, finding, verdict or sentence will not be upheld to an appropriate appeal court.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission was established in January 1997 (by authority of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995), and took over responsibility for reviewing applications in March 1997.
A discretion which was exclusively for the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to exercise is thus now regulated by a set of statutory criteria, and entrusted to the Members and staff of an independent body removed from political or judicial influence.
It is important that claims that there has been a miscarriage of justice should be dealt with as quickly as possible so that any injustice can be put right and so that, where the claim is rejected, everyone concerned can know where they stand and get on with their lives. The development of performance indicators which is promised in this document will make a significant contribution to building public confidence in a system which we all wish to see working efficiently and effectively.
I believe that the Criminal Cases Review Commission will come to play a key role in enhancing public confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of the criminal justice system as a whole, as Parliament intended, and I look forward to seeing it do so.
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1.1 This Management Statement sets out the mission and objectives of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (the CCRC), the division of responsibilities between the CCRC and the Home Office, and the CCRC’s accountability to the Home Secretary and through him to Parliament
1.2 The CCRC was established as a body corporate by authority of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 (the Act). It has the status of an executive Non-Departmental Public Body established by statute. The Act provides that the CCRC should have no fewer than eleven members, appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, one of whom is appointed by the Queen as Chairman. The CCRC employs a Chief Executive and is expected, initially, to employ in the region of 65 other staff. It operates from premises in Birmingham.
1.3 The role of the CCRC is to review and investigate cases of suspected wrongful conviction, and/or sentence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to refer cases to the appropriate court of appeal whenever it considers that there is a real possibility that the conviction, verdict, finding or sentence would not be upheld. It may also refer cases to the Secretary of State with a view to his recommending to the Queen the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
1.4 In the exercise of its statutory powers, the CCRC will adhere
to the guidance contained in this document, and to any other guidance on
the operation of Non-Departmental Public Bodies provided by the Home Office
(its sponsor department) or other government departments.
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2.1 The mission of the CCRC is to carry out the statutory functions set out in the Criminal Appeal Act 1995:
a) Under sections 9-12, to refer a conviction, verdict, finding or sentence to an appropriate court of appeal whenever it considers that there is a real possibility that it would not be upheld;
b) Under section 15, to investigate and report to the Court of Appeal on any matter which it is directed to investigate and report;
c) Under section 16(1), to consider any reference from the Secretary of State of any matters in relation to the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, and to give a statement of its conclusions;
d) Under section 16(2), to give reasons for its opinion in any case where it determines that the Secretary of State should consider recommending an exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy;
e) Under paragraph 8 of Schedule 1, to send to the Secretary
of State an annual report on the discharge of its functions, to be laid
before each House of Parliament.
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3.1 The objectives of the CCRC are the following:
a) To review and investigate suspected miscarriages of justice, and to refer to the appropriate court of appeal any cases where there is a real possibility that a conviction, finding, verdict or sentence will not be upheld;
b) To ensure that all cases are dealt with effectively and expeditiously;
c) To deliver its services in ways appropriate to stakeholder needs;
d) To promote public understanding of its role;
e) To enhance public confidence in the criminal justice system.
3.2 The CCRC will develop specific goals and processes for meeting these objectives, and will consider issuing a Charter Standard Statement.
3.3 During its first year of operation, the CCRC will develop
and apply a provisional set of statistical indicators (covering volumes
of cases received, time taken to process them, and number of investigations
instigated etc), and it will monitor delivery of the goals set out in its
corporate and business plans. During the period covered by this Management
Statement, it will progressively develop a range of performance indicators
(to include both process and outcome measures) to measure its performance
in relation to the objectives outlined above.
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4. RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The Secretary of State
4.1 The Secretary of State is responsible for setting the overall policy framework within which the CCRC operates. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland retains similar policy responsibilities for Northern Ireland. CCRC Member remuneration is directed by the Home Secretary. CCRC staff numbers, and terms and conditions of service are subject to the Home Secretary’s consent. The Home Secretary is answerable to Parliament for the work of the CCRC, and is responsible for making financial provision to meet its business needs.
4.2 The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern
Ireland cannot intervene in the CCRC’s determination of individual cases.
The Sponsor Department
4.3 The Permanent Secretary of the Home Office, as Departmental Accounting Officer, is responsible to Parliament for the management of the grant-in-aid to the CCRC, and for the conditions attached to the grant-in-aid. He is responsible for ensuring that the financial and management controls exercised by the CCRC conform to the requirements of propriety and of good financial management, and are adequate to safeguard public funds. He may be summoned to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to be examined on the discharge of his duties relating to the CCRC. He is responsible for designating the Accounting Officer of the CCRC, or revoking that designation, (if he thinks fit), and for ensuring that specific Treasury sanction for expenditure has been obtained wherever it is required. He has appointed the Chief Executive of the CCRC as its Accounting Officer (see Letter of Appointment at Appendix A).
4.4 The Criminal Cases Unit of the Home Office is the Department’s normal liaison point with the CCRC. It will establish monitoring procedures to ensure that the CCRC complies with its conditions of grant, and it is responsible for advising the CCRC at the earliest possible opportunity of any policy issues or proposed legislative changes which would affect its work. The Criminal Cases Unit will provide the CCRC with any relevant guidance issued from other Government Departments.
4.5 The Deputy Director (Criminal Justice) of the Criminal Policy Directorate will chair a Departmental Committee which will meet at least twice a year and constitute the formal link between the Department and the CCRC.
4.6 The Department is responsible for providing IT for the CCRC
to meet its initial IT requirements.
The Northern Ireland Office
4.7 The Criminal Justice Policy Division of the Northern Ireland Office will act as a liaison point between the CCRC and the Northern Ireland Office. The Head of the Criminal Justice Policy Division is responsible for advising the CCRC at the earliest possible opportunity of any policy issues or proposed legislative changes relating to Northern Ireland which could affect its work. He will represent the Northern Ireland Office on the Departmental Committee.
4.8 Members of the CCRC are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
4.9 The CCRC is responsible for carrying out the functions assigned to it by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995, and is accountable to the Secretary of State, and through him to Parliament, for the effective, efficient and economical performance of those functions. The CCRC is responsible for meeting the objectives set out in this Management Statement, for the production of its corporate and business plans, and for reporting annually to the Secretary of State on the discharge of its functions.
The Chief Executive
4.10 The Chief Executive of the CCRC is responsible to the CCRC for the effective, efficient and economical management of the CCRC’s resources.
4.11 The Chief Executive is the Accounting Officer for the CCRC and has the personal duty of signing its accounts. The Chief Executive is accountable to the Department for observation of the grant conditions, and will be answerable with the Departmental Accounting Officer to the Public Accounts Committee for the regularity and propriety of expenditure of the CCRC’s grant-in-aid.
4.12 The Chief Executive will ensure that the requirements of Government Accounting are met, and that the CCRC adheres to any guidance issued by HM Treasury, including the NDPB Accounting Officer Memorandum (Appendix A).
Accountability to Parliament
4.13 The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland are responsible for answering Parliamentary Questions in relation to matters before the CCRC emanating from England and Wales, and Northern Ireland, respectively. Where necessary the relevant Minister will seek information from the CCRC in order to answer Parliamentary Questions.
4.14 Members of both Houses of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, and members of other governments are encouraged to write directly to the CCRC, as are the general public, when they wish to raise a matter connected with the CCRC’s activities. Correspondence received by Ministers directly concerned with the operations of the CCRC, or with individual cases will normally be referred directly to the CCRC.
4.15 The CCRC will produce a Code of Best Practice for Commission Members and a Code on Access to Information, and will operate an effective procedure for handling complaints. It is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
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5. PLANNING AND RESOURCING
5.1 The CCRC’s resources are voted by Parliament and paid by grant-in-aid by the Home Office. The framework and conditions associated with this payment are set out in the Financial Memorandum attached as Annex A.
5.2 The level of grant-in-aid to the CCRC is determined by Government
in the context of the Public Expenditure cycle. The PES cycle begins in
March, culminating in the Autumn. At this point, the Home Office will advise
the CCRC of its planned financial allocation for the succeeding year and
two years immediately beyond that.
5.3 By the end of March each year, the CCRC will prepare and submit to the Home Secretary for agreement a Corporate Plan for the three financial years beginning with the year twelve months ahead. In its first year of operation the CCRC’s Corporate Plan will also cover the year 1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998.
5.4 The Corporate Plan will form the basis for consideration by the Department of the CCRC’s resource requirements. It will be finalised when the CCRC is notified of its allocation (usually in November) in the light of allocations made in the Public Expenditure Survey.
5.5 The Corporate Plan will set out how the CCRC intends to approach
its objectives, and the policies and priorities it will adopt in so doing.
It will describe the shorter-term activities that the CCRC plans to undertake.
It will set out in detail, with estimated costs and staffing implication,
an appropriate programme of work for the coming financial year.
5.6 Each year the CCRC will prepare and present to the Home Secretary for agreement a Business Plan for the coming year, based on the corresponding plan of work set out in the rolling Corporate Plan. It will describe what activities will be undertaken in the year ahead in pursuit of the objectives and goals set out in the Corporate Plan.
5.7 If resource needs, workload or priorities change substantially during the year, the Plan and any agreed goals may be amended by consultation between the CCRC and the Home Secretary.
Goals and Performance Indicators
5.8 The Corporate Plan and the Annual Business Plan are the contexts in which the CCRC will present its goals, processes and performance indicators. At the time of preparation of its first Corporate and Business plans, the CCRC will not be able to define a comprehensive range of performance indicators. Instead, it will provide a range of statistical indicators, while progressively developing and discussing with the Department, a range of performance indicators pertinent to its objectives and goals, and to the improvement of its processes and outputs.
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6. REPORTING AND FINANCIAL CONTROL
6.1 The Commission will prepare an Annual Report on the discharge
of its functions. The Report will be laid before both Houses of Parliament
by the Home Secretary. The CCRC will aim to present its Report in June
6.2 The Report will cover the extent to which the CCRC has met its objectives and goals as set out in the Corporate Plan, will comment on any problems that have arisen and contain proposals for any improvements required. It will include numerical information on the work of the CCRC, an account of the workings of the provisions of Sections 9 - 25 of the Act, and recommendations relating to any of those provisions. It will include the CCRC’s certified statement of accounts. The CCRC’s first Annual Report and Statement of Accounts falls due at the close of the financial year ending 31 March 1998 and will include a Report on the period 1 January to 31 March 1997.
6.3 The Comptroller and Auditor General will report on the statement of accounts and lay his report before both Houses of Parliament.
6.4 The CCRC will establish an Audit Committee consisting primarily of CCRC Members, to assist the Accounting Officer discharge her responsibilities. It will be chaired by a Commission Member (other than the Chairman) who has experience of financial matters. Other arrangements for financial accountability are set out in detail in the Financial Memorandum annexed to this Statement.
6.5 The Commission will provide the Home Office with such information on the statistical performance of its duties as is needed for the purposes of the Departmental Committee, and otherwise as required by the Home Secretary.
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7.1 Members of the CCRC are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The CCRC is responsible for paying the remuneration of the Chairman and Members, by direction of the Home Secretary. The CCRC may recruit, appoint and dismiss its own staff subject to the Secretary of State’s consent as to their number and terms and conditions of service. Its staff are employees of the CCRC and are subject to its personnel policies and terms and conditions of service. Staff will be members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, unless they individually decide otherwise. Members of the CCRC can opt to have pension arrangements broadly-by-analogy with the Scheme.
7.2 The CCRC will ensure that all staff receive induction training and are given opportunities to develop their careers through further training and experience. The CCRC will draw up a Code of Conduct for staff.
7.3 Staff seconded to the CCRC will be subject to the terms and conditions of their seconding organisation, except as agreed otherwise. Such staff will be subject to their seconding organisation’s disciplinary procedures; the CCRC may, however, ask for early termination of any secondment where it is not satisfied with any disciplinary action taken.
7.4 The CCRC will promote good staff relations. It will keep staff informed of developments within and affecting the CCRC on a regular basis, and ensure that staff are able to put their views freely to management.
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8.1 The contents of this Management Statement will be reviewed by the Secretary of State and the Chairman of the CCRC immediately after completion of the Commission’s first business year, and at least every three years thereafter. Copies of the Management Statement and any subsequent amendments to it will be published and placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
8.2 The CCRC will be reviewed by the Home Office at least every five years to examine critically both the justification for the body on policy grounds and its internal systems of financial management and control. The first review will be undertaken by 1 January 2002.
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2. This paragraph sets out the respective responsibilities of the Accounting Officer of the Home Office and the Accounting Officer of the Commission.
a) The Home Office Accounting Officer is the principal Accounting Officer and is responsible for the propriety and regularity of the public finances for which he is answerable; for the keeping of proper accounts; for prudent and economical administration; for the avoidance of waste and extravagance; and for the efficient and effective use of all the resources in his charge. In all cases where grant-in-aid is given it is also the responsibility of the Departmental Accounting Officer to satisfy himself that the financial and other management controls applied by the department are appropriate and sufficient to safeguard public funds and, more generally, that those being applied by the Commission conform with the requirements of propriety and of good financial management; and to ensure that the conditions attached to the grant-in-aid conform with the terms of the Vote and to monitor compliance with those by the Commission. The DAO will also ensure that adequate monitoring procedures are established by the Department to give assurance to the DAO that the Commission is complying with the conditions of grant.
b) The Commission is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) and is required to have an Accounting Officer. Responsibility for designating the Accounting Officer of the Commission rests with the Departmental Accounting Officer (DAO) in accordance with Treasury rules. The DAO will normally designate the Chief Executive of the Commission to undertake this role in accordance with DAO (GEN) 6/96. The letter of designation will make clear that the designation may be withdrawn if the DAO concludes that the appointee is no longer a fit person to carry the responsibilities of an accounting officer or that it is otherwise in the public interest that the designation be withdrawn. It is unlikely that the Secretary of State will give his consent to the terms and conditions of service of the Chief Executive unless these provide for him/her to carry out the duties of Accounting Officer whilst so designated and that withdrawal of Accounting Officer status would normally be a ground for termination of the appointment as Chief Executive.
The letter of designation will also state that to carry out his/her responsibilities as Accounting Officer, he/she will need a thorough understanding of propriety and accountability issues as they affect those in public service.
The Accounting Officer will accordingly be expected to attend appropriate training courses designated for Chief Executives. The Accounting Officer of the Commission carries similar responsibilities to those of the principal Accounting Officer as far as his/her stewardship of funds is concerned and he/she will be designated by the principal Accounting Officer as the Accounting Officer of the Commission. He/she will be responsible for ensuring that the requirements of ‘Government Accounting’ are met. The Commission’s Accounting Officer and the principal Accounting Officer are both liable to be summoned before the Public Accounts Committee in connection with their respective responsibilities. The Commission’s Accounting Officer may also be required to appear before other parliamentary committees. Each new incumbent to this post will be the recipient, from the Home Office, of the specific transmission of the Treasury memorandum, ‘The Responsibilities of a NDPB Accounting Officer’.
c) In particular, the Commission’s Accounting Officer:
ii) shall ensure the good and efficient management of the Commission’s assets and operations;
iii) shall, if the Commission, or the Chairman, is contemplating a course of action involving a transaction which he/she considers would infringe the requirements of propriety or regularity (including the provisions of the Commission’s financial memorandum, management statement, or other document setting out the financial duties of the Commission, or of any ‘Government Accounting’ or other rules governing the conduct of the body), or does not represent prudent and economical administration or efficiency or effectiveness, take the action set out in paragraphs 14 to 18 of the Treasury memorandum, ‘The Responsibilities of a NDPB Accounting Officer’;
iv) has the personal authority to write off losses and make special payments as delegated (see below);
v) shall not assign absolutely to any person the responsibilities set out in this paragraph;
vi) shall ensure that the Commission observes any general guidance issued by the Treasury or the Cabinet Office and puts into effect any recommendations accepted by Government of the PAC, other Parliamentary Select Committees or other Parliamentary authority.
vii) He/she will further ensure that the Commission complies
with such administrative practices applicable to the expenditure of public
funds as the Home Office shall specify and takes account of the advice
on NDPB financial management responsibilities set out in Chapter 5 of the
publication ‘Non Departmental Public Bodies – a Guide to Departments (HMSO,
1992)’ as amended or augmented from time to time.
4. The grant-in-aid to the Commission shall be made towards meeting the expenses of the Commission in fulfilling its statutory functions and duties etc., under the Act.
5. The Commission shall consult with the Home Office before any expansion of the Commission’s work is undertaken which would involve an addition to recurrent expenditure in future years or before any arrangements are entered into which would imply any new financial commitments. Similar consultation shall occur about any likely overspend on the agreed current year provision and the Commission should give early warning too of any significant underspend which might be developing.
6. The Commission shall also obtain the approval of the Home Office for virement between the following main heads of the estimate which would cause either head to be exceeded by 10% or more
a) salaries, and
a) running expenses.
7. a) Issues to the Commission from the grant-in-aid will be made by the Home Office in consultation with the Commission and according to the agreed needs of the Commission. Any statement of needs or request for grant-in-aid shall be supported by such details as may be required by the Home Office. Regard will be had to estimates of payments and receipts in the period of the instalment of the grant-in-aid, the amount in hand and the need for a reasonable working balance.
b) Grant-in-aid not issued by the Home Office at the end of the financial year shall lapse.
c) The Commission may carry over, from one financial year to the next, any issued but unexpended balance of the authorised grant-in-aid up to a limit of 2% of the original grant-in-aid as voted by Parliament; any excess over 2% will be taken into account in the calculation of grant-in-aid for the following year. In the event of the Commission not receiving grant-in-aid in the following year, special arrangements will need to apply.
d) If receipts turn out to be significantly higher than anticipated when the grant-in-aid was fixed, the Home Office will, in consultation as necessary with the Treasury, consider whether grant-in-aid payments should be reduced accordingly (given that such payments should not be made in advance of need) or whether the Commission will be allowed to increase its expenditure in line with the excess receipts. The decision will be recorded in the Annual Report and Accounts.
8. a) The Commission shall submit to the Home Office, in the form of three yearly corporate plans and annual business plans, on a cycle to be agreed with the Home Office, estimates of income, expenditure and staff complements for the forthcoming financial year, and forecast estimates and plans for subsequent years. These estimates, if approved by the Home Office, will be used for determining the amount of grant-in-aid to the Commission to be provided for in the Supply Estimates of the Home Office for the following financial year. The Commission shall also at such times as may be required submit revised estimates for the current financial year showing the expected outturn for the year, and any balance expected to be in hand at 31 March.
b) The Commission’s estimates should show the division of expected payments and receipts (including any fees) in such form as may be agreed between the Home Office and the Commission.
c) Subject to the general approval of the Home Office to the Commission’s estimates (to be conveyed in writing) and to the provisions of the following paragraphs, the Commission may incur the expenditure planned without further reference to the Home Office.
Objectives and The Measure of Performance
9. The Commission shall set out, within the agreed timescale and in the form required by the Home Office, its proposed objectives and quantified targets, its strategy for achieving them and its arrangements for monitoring and assessing performance.
10. a) In accordance with paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 to the Act, the Commission may, with the consent of the Secretary of State as to numbers and as to terms and conditions of service, appoint such employees as it thinks fit.
b) To assist in the determination of these matters, the Home Office may require a review to be carried out in such form as may be stipulated to examine the need for, type and organisation of, the work carried out by the Commission for the purpose of giving consent to the proposed numbers of staff.
11. The Commission shall be subject to such review arrangements for Non-Departmental Public Bodies as may be stipulated by the Treasury. The Home Office may from time to time, but only after consultation with the Commission, conduct or commission reviews of the Commission including:
a) policy reviews;
b) management or financial management reviews – to examine the way the Commission plans and controls its activities and to consider the scope for improvements with the aim of strengthening management and of securing better value for money.
c) staffing reviews – also see 10b above.
The Commission agrees to make available to Home Office officials or other authorised personnel all material required by them to carry out any review. Home Office Internal Audit Unit may be asked to contribute to such reviews, particularly where they involve scrutiny of internal audit activity within the Commission. Contributions should normally take the form of advice or secondment of suitable staff to the review team.
12. The principal Accounting Officer is responsible for ensuring
that the Commission’s banking arrangements safeguard public funds. The
Commission’s Accounting Officer is responsible for ensuring that the Commission’s
banking arrangements are in accordance with the requirements of ‘Government
Accounting’ and are carried out efficiently, economically and effectively.
The Commission should, therefore, ensure that these arrangements are suitably
structured, represent value for money and are reviewed at least every two
years with a comprehensive review, usually leading to competitive tendering,
at least every three to five years. The Commission’s Accounting Officer
is responsible for providing such information as is requested to enable
the principal Accounting Officer to fulfil his/her responsibilities.
13. a) The Commission shall not undertake any insurance without prior approval of the Home Office, other than third party insurance required by the Road Traffic Acts and any other insurance which is a statutory obligation. This does not preclude the Commission from reimbursing landlord’s insurance costs incurred under a lease agreement where it occupies any part of a building.
b) Except in the case of circumstances covered by insurance policies any financial compensation, restitution or other payments arising from any loss, damage or other circumstances for which the Commission accepts liability or is held to be liable shall be met from the grant-in-aid or from other monies made available to the Commission from time to time by the Home Office, subject to the conditions in the following paragraph. This should be read in the light of guidance in ‘Government Accounting’. Where it is decided that a loss or claim should be met the presumption is that the Commission should meet the cost from within its existing allocation.
It is, however, open to the Home Office to consider whether it should make any additional funds available, seeking any necessary approvals from the Treasury.
14. a) The Commission may itself settle claims made against it for damage or loss of property up to a value of £2,000 in each case, provided that the total of such payments does not exceed £10,000 in any one financial year. In every case the claimant should sign an undertaking renouncing any further claim against the Commission arising from the incident which gave rise to the claim.
b) In the case of any claim arising against the Commission from injury to, or death of, any person whether that person is in the employment of the Commission or otherwise, or in the case of any claim for damage to or loss of property amounting to more than £2,000, the Commission shall not accept liability to make any payment without the authority of the Home Office. A Certificate of Exemption exists under the provisions of the Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment) Regulations 1974.
c) The foregoing conditions apply equally where the claimant is or is not a member of the Commission’s staff.
Write-off and Special Payments
15. Subject to agreements with the Home Office as to procedures to be followed, and up to a limit of £500 in each case, the Commission may deal with and, where necessary, ‘write-off’ any losses in the following categories.
A. CASH LOSSES
i) losses by theft, fraud, arson or gross carelessness (where every effort must be made to secure full recovery, prosecution must be pursued in all appropriate cases and disciplinary action considered where applicable);
ii) physical losses of cash, eg. by fire;
iii) loss of cash equivalents, eg stamps;
iv) unvouched and incompletely vouched payments;
v) irrecoverable losses due to overpayments;
vi) unauthorised issues of cash;
B. STORE LOSSES
vii) all losses normally dealt with under this head (including losses by fraud, etc.);
viii) constructive losses and fruitless payments.
Similarly, up to a limit of £500 in each case, the Commission may deal with and make special payments. In doing so, the Commission should have regard to the guidance in ‘Government Accounting’ (currently Chapter 36), to the Treasury letter DAO, (GEN) 15/92 (maladministration), and to any subsequent guidance. The Commission will need to safeguard itself against fraud and theft. All cases of fraud and theft whether proven or suspected (even when the sum involved is within the delegation limits) must be referred to the Home Office Finance Unit via the Criminal Cases Unit (ie. as part of the quarterly return of frauds).
Acquisition and Disposal of Assets and Treatment of Certain Receipts
16. All purchases of works, equipment, purchases and leases of land, goods and services should be based on value for money, ie quality (of fitness for purpose) and delivery against price. Contracts should be placed on a competitive basis unless there are convincing reasons to the contrary. The Commission should follow the best practice and procedures as set out in the Home Office Procurement Manual. If any asset bought wholly or partly from the grant-in-aid and having a normal life of one year or more ceases to be used in connection with the work for which the grant is paid, the Commission shall dispose of the asset in such manner as the Home Office direct and account for any receipts as advised by the Home Office. Prior Treasury approval is required if there is a proposal at any stage to dispose of Exchequer financed assets at less than market values. The Home Office should be consulted for advice on the treatment of receipts – sales of publications, fees for broadcasting engagements, etc, where these arise. Fees and charges for services provided by the Commission shall be determined in accordance with the Treasury Fees and Charges Guide.
17. The Commission is a non-Crown NDPB and has its own landholding powers, by virtue of section 8 (2) of the Act. Any property held by the Commission will therefore be owned or leased by it, and not by the Home Office.
18. The Commission is responsible for the proper management and use of the property it occupies, but should consult the Home Office before embarking on any significant capital expenditure or acquiring or disposing of property (paragraph 5 above). Any such proposals should be the subject of a formal investment appraisal carried out in accordance with Treasury guidance, and should include consideration of a PFI option.
Before acquiring accommodation, the Commission should check, through the Building and Estates Management Unit (BEMU) of the Home Office, whether suitable property is available on the Home Office estate or other Departments’ estates.
The Commission must ensure that it has access to the necessary property expertise to manage its accommodation including, as a minimum, "intelligent client" capability in order to procure external specialist advice. If this capability is not available in house, it can be obtained either from BEMU (if resources allow) or from PACE (Property Advisers to the Civil Estate). The Commission is also required to refer to common good property advice issued by PACE’s Central Advice Unit.
Borrowing, Lending, Indemnities and Write-off of Losses, etc
19. The Commission agree that, subject to the consent of the Home Office, it shall not, except as provided for above:
a) have a bank overdraft at any time or borrow money in any other manner;
b) make loans or gifts of money or grant supported assets from the grant-in-aid;
c) give guarantees, indemnities or letters of comfort, etc., or incur any other contingent liability, (whether or not in a legally binding form), except where a liability is of a standard type which is given in the course of normal commercial business dealings;
d) write-off any losses or make any special, (eg. extra contractual and/or ex-gratia), payments.
The Commission shall keep a record of all losses and special payments, whether within delegated powers or not, and all losses sustained or special payments made shall be suitably recorded in the statement of accounts for each financial year. A record of gifts given and received should also be kept.
Accounting and Audit Arrangements, Resource Control, etc
20. The Commission will:
a) keep proper accounts and proper records in relation to the accounts in accordance with paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 to the Act;
b) prepare in respect of each financial year a statement of accounts to comply with any directions given by the Home Office, with the approval of the Treasury, as to the information to be contained in the statement, the manner in which the information is to be presented or the methods and principles according to which the statement is to be prepared; and
c) send copies of the statement to the Secretary of State and the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) as soon as possible after the end of each financial year and in accordance with any direction under the Act which may be issued by the Secretary of State.
21. The financial year of the Commission shall be the 12 months ending on 31 March; and as provided for by paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 to the Act during its first year.
22. The C&AG will examine, certify and report on the statement of accounts of the Commission and lay a copy of it together with his/her report thereon before each House of Parliament. The C&AG shall have free access, at all convenient times, to the books of account and other documents relating to the Commission’s accounts and may require the Commission to furnish him/her from time to time or at regular periods, with accounts of transactions of the Commission up to such times or periods.
The C&AG shall also be enabled to carry out an examination into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the Commission has used its resources in discharging its functions.
23. The Commission shall maintain appropriate arrangements for economic, efficient and effective financial, manpower and resource control. These arrangements should ensure the regularity and propriety of all payments out of the grant-in-aid, the proper application of all income and receipts and the safeguarding of all property in the Commission’s charge.
24. The Commission will also make adequate arrangements for internal audit which should comply with the objectives, standards and practices set out in the Treasury’s Government Internal Audit Manual. The Home Office internal audit unit has responsibility for appraising the adequacy of the Home Office’s control system for dealing with the Commission. To meet this objective the audit unit may need to examine the Commission’s activities in order to test the effectiveness of the departmental controls. Such work should normally be undertaken for the purpose of forming an audit opinion of Home Office controls over the Commission.
25. The Commission will provide the Home Office, in accordance with paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to the Act, with an annual report on the year’s activities so as to provide further information on the work undertaken with the grant-in-aid. The report should comment on the extent to which the Commission has been successful in meeting its planned objectives for the year.
26. Any amendments which need to be made to the text of this
Memorandum will be agreed between the Commission and the Home Office, consulting
the Treasury as necessary. The Memorandum will be reviewed by the Commission
and the Home Office within three years of the establishment of the Commission,
and then at three year intervals thereafter, and revised as necessary by
the Commission and the Home Office, with the agreement of the Treasury.
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TEXT OF THE LETTER OF APPOINTMENT OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE AS ACCOUNTING OFFICER
Following your appointment as Chief Executive of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), I am writing to designate you formally as Accounting Officer for the Commission with effect from 30 January 1997.
I enclose a copy of the Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) Accounting Officer Memorandum which sets out the responsibilities of a NDPB Accounting Officer. I am the Accounting Officer for the Vote to which the CCRC’s grant-in-aid is charged. Your responsibilities in relation to the use to which these resources are put flow from mine in relation to the Votes as a whole. Paragraphs 19 to 24 in particular deal with your liability as a NDPB Accounting Officer to be summoned to appear with me before the Committee of Public Accounts.
In carrying out your duties, you will need to take account of the conditions attached to payment of grant-in-aid to the CCRC (which are set out in the attached Financial Memorandum). I should like to draw your attention in particular to the provisions of paragraph 2c(i) of the conditions in the memorandum, which requires you to have regard to the need for exercising responsibility for the control of expenditure and resources, and for economical, efficient and effective management.
To carry out your responsibilities as Accounting Officer, you will need a thorough understanding of propriety and accountability issues as they affect those in public service. As Accounting Officer you will accordingly be expected to attend appropriate training courses designated for Chief Executives. Designation as Accounting Officer may be withdrawn in the event that I, as Home Office Accounting Officer, concluded that you were no longer a fit person to carry on the responsibilities of an Accounting Officer or that it is otherwise in the public interest that your designation be withdrawn. Your terms and conditions of employment also state that withdrawal of Accounting Officer status would normally lead to termination of employment.
I would be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this letter and enclosures. Copies of the letter have been sent to the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Clerk to the Public Accounts Committee and the Treasury Officer of Accounts.
Suffolk Street Queensway
THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF AN ACCOUNTING OFFICER
2. Associated with these duties are the further responsibilities which are the subject of this memorandum. It is incumbent on the officials who serve as Accounting Officer to combine these duties with their duties to the Board of the NDPB (or where there is no Board, to the senior appointee to the body), which they should inform of their designation. More detailed guidance for the Accounting Officer and the staff of the NDPB is contained in the Treasury Manual ‘Government Accounting’ (copies of which are available from HMSO).
3. NDPBs are financed in a variety of ways, for example by grant-in-aid, grant, income from fees and charges or private sector funds. An Accounting Officer is designated in the case of NDPBs which are financed by a large grant or grant-in-aid or where the accounts of the body are to be laid before Parliament. Where it is in the interests of public accountability, a department will also designate an Accounting Officer for a NDPB which receives its primary funding from other sources. It is an important principle that, regardless of the source of the funding, Accounting Officers are responsible to Parliament for the resources under their control.
4. This memorandum is directed at those who are formally designated as Accounting Officer. Its contents, however, are applicable to the senior full-time official of a NDPB for which there is no designated Accounting Officer. This memorandum does not apply to those NDPBs (such as Tribunals and Advisory Committees) which are funded directly by a department through a Vote (as opposed to via grant or grant-in-aid) and for which the Departmental Accounting Officer is therefore accountable.
5. Paragraph 6 below describes the responsibilities of the Departmental Accounting Officer in relation to NDPBs. Paragraph 7 describes the general responsibilities of the Chief Executive of a NDPB. Paragraphs 8-18 set out the responsibilities of Accounting Officers in respect of the funds for which they are responsible. Paragraphs 19-24 deal with the Accounting Officer’s duties and responsibilities in respect of the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee. Paragraphs 25-27 describe the arrangements for covering the absence of an Accounting Officer.
Responsibilities of the Departmental Accounting Officer
6. In relation to NDPBs, it is the responsibility of a Departmental Accounting Officer to be satisfied that:
a) the financial and other management controls applied by the department are appropriate and sufficient to safeguard public funds and, more generally, that those being applied by the NDPB conform with the requirements both of propriety and of good financial management;
b) there is an adequate statement of the financial relationship between the department and the NDPB (in a financial memorandum or similar document) and that this statement is regularly reviewed;
c) the conditions attached to grants conform with the terms of the Vote and that the Sponsor Department monitors compliance with those conditions.
The General Responsibilities of the NDPB Accounting Officer
7. The designation as Accounting Officer reflects the fact that under the Board (whether or not he or she is a member of the Board) the Accounting Officer has responsibility, which only he or she is in a position to discharge, for the overall organisation, management and staffing of the NDPB and for its procedures in financial and other matters. The Accounting Officer must ensure that there is a high standard of financial management in the NDPB as a whole; that financial systems and procedures promote the efficient and economical conduct of business and safeguard financial propriety and regularity throughout the NDPB; and that financial considerations are fully taken into account in decisions on NDPB policy proposals.
The Specific Responsibilities of the NDPB Accounting Officer
8. The essence of the Accounting Officer’s role is a personal responsibility for the propriety and regularity of the public finances for which he or she is answerable; for the keeping of proper accounts; for prudent and economical administration; for the avoidance of waste and extravagance; and for the efficient and effective use of all the resources in their charge.
9. As Accounting Officer you must:
a) personally sign the accounts (subject to the point in paragraph 1 about Companies Act companies) and in doing so accept personal responsibility for their proper presentation as prescribed in legislation or by Ministers;
b) conform with the requirements of any financial memoranda and ensure that accounts are drawn up in accordance with any conditions set out in legislation, the accounts direction and relevant Treasury guidance;
c) ensure that proper financial procedures are followed and that accounting records are maintained in a form suited to the requirements of management as well as in the form prescribed for published accounts;
d) ensure that the resources for which you are responsible as Accounting Officer are properly and well managed (see paragraph 10 below) and safeguarded, with independent and effective checks of cash balances in the hands of any official;
e) ensure that assets for which you are responsible such as land, buildings or other property, including stores and equipment, are controlled and safeguarded with similar care, and with checks as appropriate;
f) ensure that conflicts of interest are avoided, whether in the proceedings of the Board or in the actions or advice of its staff, including yourself;
g) ensure that, in the consideration of policy proposals relating to the expenditure for which you are responsible as Accounting Officer, all relevant financial considerations, including any issues of propriety, regularity or value for money, are taken into account, and brought to the attention of the Board.
10. An Accounting Officer should ensure that effective management systems appropriate for the achievement of the NDPB’s objectives, including financial monitoring and control systems, have been put in place. An Accounting Officer should also ensure that managers at all levels:
a) have a clear view of their objectives, and the means to assess and, wherever possible, measure outputs or performance in relation to those objectives;
b) are assigned well defined responsibilities for making the best use of resources (both those consumed by their own commands and any made available to organisations or individuals outside the NDPB) including a critical scrutiny of output and value for money;
c) have the information (particularly about costs), training and access to the expert advice which they need to exercise their responsibilities effectively.
11. Accounting Officers must make sure that their arrangements for delegation promote good management and that they are supported by the necessary staff with an appropriate balance of skills. Arrangements for internal audit should accord with the objectives, standards and practices set out in the Treasury ‘Government Internal Audit Manual’.
Regularity and Propriety of Expenditure
12. In respect of funds Voted by Parliament, Accounting Officers have a particular responsibility for ensuring compliance with Parliamentary requirements in the control of expenditure and any requirements imposed by the Sponsor Department. A fundamental requirement is that the funds for which they are responsible should be applied only to the extent and for the purposes authorised by Parliament. You must also comply with any conditions which Ministers may attach to the grant or grant-in-aid. You must ensure that Parliament’s attention is drawn to losses or special payments, by appropriate notation of the relevant account.
13. An Accounting Officer is responsible for ensuring that specific approval for expenditure has been obtained from the Sponsor Department in all cases where it is required, including cases involving pay, pensions and conditions of service. This will include any expenditure not covered by any authorities delegated by the Department to the NDPB.
As in the case of delegations from the Treasury to departments, delegated authority does not remove the obligation to submit to its Sponsor Department proposals which are novel or contentious. The Accounting Officer is also responsible for ensuring that adequate machinery exists for the collection and bringing to account in due form of all receipts of any kind connected with the accounts of the NDPB.
Advice to the Board
14. An Accounting Officer has particular responsibility to see that appropriate advice is tendered to the Board on all matters of financial propriety and regularity and more broadly as to all considerations of prudent and economical administration, efficiency and effectiveness. Accounting Officers will need to determine how and in what terms such advice should be tendered, and whether in a particular case to make specific reference to their own duty as Accounting Officer to justify to the Public Accounts Committee transactions for which they are accountable.
15. The Board of a NDPB should act in accordance with the requirements of propriety or regularity (including the provisions of the NDPB’s financial memorandum, or other documents setting out the financial duties of the NDPB, or any of "Government Accounting" or other rules governing the conduct of the NDPB). However, if the Board or the Chairman is contemplating a course of action involving a transaction which you as Accounting Officer consider would infringe these requirements, you should set out in writing your objection to the proposal, the reasons for this objection, and your duty to notify the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) should your advice be overruled. If the Board decides nonetheless to proceed, you should seek a written instruction to take the action in question. You should also inform your Sponsoring Department’s Accounting Officer of the position, if possible before the Board takes its decision or in any event before the decision is implemented, so that the Department, if it considers it appropriate, can intervene with the Board and inform the Treasury. If the outcome is that you are overruled the Board’s instruction must be complied with, but your request for the instruction and the instruction itself should be communicated without undue delay to the NDPB’s external auditors, and to the C&AG. Provided that this procedure has been followed, the PAC can be expected to recognise that the Accounting Officer bears no personal responsibility for the transaction.
16. If a course of action is contemplated which raises an issue not of formal propriety or regularity but relating to your wider responsibilities for economy, efficiency and effectiveness, it is your duty to draw the relevant factors to the attention of the Board and to advise them in whatever way you deem appropriate. If your advice is overruled, and the proposal is one which as Accounting Officer you would not feel able to defend to the Public Accounts Committee as representing value for money, you should seek a written instruction before proceeding. The Departmental Accounting Officer should be informed of such an instruction, if possible before the decision is implemented. It will then be for the Departmental Accounting Officer to consider the matter, and whether or not to intervene.
If the outcome is that the difference between yourself and the Board nevertheless remains unresolved, the Treasury should be informed and your request for the instruction and the instruction itself should be communicated to the C&AG without undue delay, as in cases of propriety or regularity (paragraph 15 above).
17. If because of the extreme urgency of the situation there is no time to submit advice in writing to the Board in either of the eventualities referred to in paragraphs 15 and 16 before the Board takes a decision, you must ensure that, if the Board overrules the advice, both the advice and the Board’s instructions are recorded in writing immediately afterwards.
18. If an Accounting Officer is also the Chairman or a member of the Board, he or she should ensure that the responsibilities as Accounting Officer do not conflict with those as Board member. For example, if the Board proposes action which as Accounting Officer you could not endorse, and would therefore advise against, you should, as a Board member, vote against such action, or ensure that your opposition as Board member as well as Accounting Officer is clearly recorded if no formal vote is taken. In serious cases it will not be sufficient to protect your position as Board member merely by abstaining from a decision which cannot be supported.
Appearance before the Public Accounts Committee
19. Where the C&AG is the auditor of the NDPB or has rights of inspection (either by statute or by agreement) then the C&AG may also, under the National Audit Act 1983, carry out examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the NDPB has used its resources in discharging its functions. An Accounting Officer may expect to be called upon to appear before the Committee from time to time, normally with the Accounting Officer from the Sponsor Department, to give evidence on the reports arising from these examinations or reports following the annual certification audit, and to answer the Committee’s questions concerning expenditure and receipts for which he or she is Accounting Officer. An Accounting Officer may be supported by one or two other senior officials who may, if necessary, assist in giving evidence.
20. Treasury officials attend Committee hearings, and may be asked to comment on the evidence. The Treasury has the formal responsibility for presenting Estimates to Parliament, for prescribing the form of accounts and the rules of ‘Government Accounting’ and for promoting good financial management in departments. This goes with the Treasury’s central responsibility for the operation of public expenditure control. Parliament has traditionally regarded the Treasury as an ally in controlling expenditure.
21. An Accounting Officer will be expected to furnish the Committee with explanations of any indications of weakness in the matters covered by paragraphs 8-13 above, to which their attention has been drawn by the C&AG or about which they may wish to question the Accounting Officer.
22. In practice, an Accounting Officer will normally have delegated authority to others, but cannot on that account disclaim responsibility or dilute his or her accountability. Nor, by convention, does the incumbent Accounting Officer decline to answer questions where the events took place before taking up appointment: the Committee may be expected not to press the incumbent’s personal responsibility in such circumstances.
23. The Committee has emphasised the importance it attaches to accuracy of evidence, and the responsibility of witnesses to ensure this, in order to ensure that relevant lines of enquiry may be pursued at its hearings. The Accounting Officer should ensure that he or she is adequately and accurately briefed on matters which are likely to arise at the hearing. The Accounting Officer may however ask the Committee for leave to supply information not within his or her immediate knowledge by means of a later note.
Should it be discovered subsequently that the evidence provided to the Committee has contained errors, these should be made known to the Committee at the earliest possible moment.
24. In general, the rules and conventions governing appearances of officials before Parliamentary Committees apply to the Public Accounts Committee including the general convention that officials do not disclose the advice given to the Board. Nevertheless, in a case where the procedure described in paragraph 15 was used concerning a matter of propriety or regularity, the Accounting Officer’s advice, and its overruling by the Board, would be disclosed to the Committee. In a case covered by paragraph 16, where the advice of an Accounting Officer has been overruled in a matter not of propriety or regularity but of prudent and economical administration, efficiency or effectiveness, the C&AG will have made clear in the report to the Committee that the Accounting Officer was overruled. The Accounting Officer should seek to avoid disclosing the advice given to the Board, though subject to their agreement the Accounting Officer should be ready to explain the reasons for their decision.
Absence of an Accounting Officer
25. An Accounting Officer should ensure that he or she is generally available for consultation, and that in any temporary period of unavailability due to illness or other cause, or during the normal period of annual leave, there will be a senior officer in the NDPB who can act on his or her behalf if required.
26. If it becomes clear to the Board that an Accounting Officer is so incapacitated that he or she will be unable to discharge these responsibilities over a period of four weeks or more, the Sponsor Department should be notified so that an acting Accounting Officer can be formally designated, pending the Accounting Officer’s return. The same applies if exceptionally the Accounting Officer plans an absence of more than four weeks during which he or she cannot be contacted.
27. The Public Accounts Committee may be expected to postpone a hearing if the relevant Accounting Officer is temporarily indisposed. Where the Accounting Officer is unable by reason of incapacity or absence to sign the accounts in time to submit them to the Minister, the NDPB may submit unsigned copies pending the Accounting Officer’s return.
If the Accounting Officer is unable to sign the accounts in time for
printing, the acting Accounting Officer should sign instead.