Headlines: June 16th, 2000

The National Audit Office has set out a checklist for corporate governance in a report into part of the NHS.The information will provide useful comparisons and pointers for several areas of the public sector, which are currently revising their thinking on scrutiny and accountability.

The report found that trustees administering charitable funds associated with the NHS – which hold assets amounting to some 1.8 billion pounds – had high standards of corporate governance and controls in place to ensure proper conduct of business.

There are over 500 of these trustee bodies, and they invest more than three hundred million pounds a year in support of the NHS.

The NAO has made recommendations aimed at keeping corporate governance and financial control arrangements at the trusts on track. These include –

– ensuring that trustees are kept fully informed about business conducted by sub-committees and ratify any decisions that they take

– avoiding trustees acting as fund advisors where it could lead to a conflict of interest

– introducing comprehensive induction procedures for all new trustees

– maintaining up to date registers of interest covering trustees, support staff and fund advisors, and non-financial as well as financial interests

– developing an integrated forward plan, budget and policy for the use of reserves

– regular monitoring and review of the performance of their investment advisors

– periodically testing the market for the investment managers and other service providers, and

– developing guidelines for fund advisors and potential grant applicants on what expenditure is appropriate to the charity