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On Board: A Guide for Board Members of Public Bodies in Scotland

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4.10 The Audit Committee of the Scottish Parliament

The Audit Committee of the Scottish Parliament is one of the committees established under the Standing Orders of the Parliament. The Audit Committee uses the reports of the Auditor General, which are laid before the Parliament, as the basis for conducting enquiries. It is chaired by a senior member of the Opposition and conducts its business on non-party political lines.

How does the Audit Committee work?

The key stages in the process whereby the Auditor General's reports are considered by the Audit Committee are as follows:

  • the Auditor General's report is discussed with the body concerned and the facts are agreed;
  • the report is laid before Parliament and published together with a Press Release;
  • if an enquiry is to be conducted by the Audit Committee, witnesses will be called to give evidence. The principal witnesses will usually be the Accountable Officer of the body and the Accountable Officer of the sponsor Department. However, it is possible that the Chair or indeed any Board member of a public body may be required to appear as a witness;
  • the Audit Committee session takes place in the Scottish Parliament and will be in public;
  • after the evidence session, the Committee drafts and approves a report which is published; and
  • a formal response to the Committee's report is provided by the Scottish Executive (or by the body in consultation with the Executive) within two months of the Committee's report being published.