Press Release - Public Sector Financial Reporting for 2017

23 January 2020

A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on financial reporting by public sector bodies has been presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas today. The report reviews the timeliness of public sector financial reporting for financial statements relating to periods ending in 2017. The main findings of the report were:

Production of financial statements and audit completion

The Comptroller and Auditor General was responsible for the audit of the 2017 financial statements of 285 public bodies and funds with an aggregate turnover value of €230 billion. There has been a significant improvement over recent years in the timeliness of submission by public bodies of draft annual financial statements for audit. Priority for early audit completion is given to higher value accounts. By end September 2018, financial statements accounting for 97% of the 2017 turnover value had been certified. These related to 61% of the bodies and funds subject to audit. The majority of the remaining audits had low turnover values and were certified during the final quarter of 2018.    

Accounts in arrears

Just eight sets of financial statements for 2017 or earlier periods had not been certified by the end of 2018. Five of the accounts in arrears were in the higher education sector. While there has been a significant improvement in the timeliness of financial reporting in that sector, a number of institutions still need to improve their performance in that regard. 

Matters referred to in audit reports

The audit reports for 13 of the certified sets of 2017 financial statements included qualified audit opinions.  In all of those cases, the basis for the qualified opinion related to pension accounting issues.

24 audit reports included additional explanatory segments intended to help users’ understanding of the information in the financial statements, mostly dealing with how pensions are accounted for. 

Audit reports also referred to 91 other matters which were considered appropriate to bring to the attention of the Oireachtas. These matters generally relate to losses or ineffective use of public funds, or to governance and control issues.     

Notes for Editors

The full text of the report is available here.

The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds.  He reports to Dáil Éireann.

Enquiries about the report should be directed to Shane Carton at (01) 863 8665 or at pressrelease@audit.gov.ie.