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Annual report and accounts
Generally government organisations' annual reports and accounts are published as House of Commons (HC) or un-numbered Act Papers. The Journal Office sets the requirements for these parliamentary papers. Contact the office at JOURNALOFFICE@parliament.uk or call 020 7219 3361/3252.
Much of the production and publishing information provided applies equally to annual reports and accounts. However, these papers have additional clearance procedures, and organisations may need to check with their parent department or, if a central government department, with HM Treasury to ensure that the correct processes are followed.
You must factor in the additional clearance procedures when planning the production of annual reports and accounts.
Government organisations have their own detailed project plans to produce the report and accounts - this summary highlights some of the steps involved. Government organisations may need to consider these:
- Central departments should follow guidance from the HM Treasury
- Identify and plan the National Audit Office input*
- Executive agencies and other arms-length bodies should prepare annual reports and accounts in accordance with their governing documents, relevant legislation and directions given by parent departments
- Executive agencies and other arms-length bodies should confirm with their parent department the timelines for approval by the permanent secretary and relevant minsters
- Obtain a spending controls exemption to produce and publish the report and accounts
- Combine draft text and financial information
- Confirm whether the design and layout of the report and accounts will be managed in house or given to an external design agency or typesetter
- Review and agree on the design and layout of the document
- Departments must obtain and include an HC number from HM Treasury. In some cases parent departments can obtain HC numbers for other organisations. Otherwise obtain numbers directly from the Journal Office
- Check that the presentation line in the document is correct. If the report and accounts is an HC or Act Paper ensure that it is laid under the correct piece of legislation, consult with legal advisors if there is any doubt. It is the authoring organisation's responsibility to ensure that the laying authority is correct
- Obtain and include the necessary publishing furniture (ISBN, copyright and re-use statement, cover price and publisher's imprint) from The National Archives' publishing contractor and submit the completed cover, title page and title verso to the Journal Office for approval
- Liaise with external auditors to audit accounts. Bear in mind that more than one audit may take place
- Review and manage report and accounts drafts leading up to final approval to publish
- Ensure that the document has been proof read for typographical and/or other errors before sending the document to the printers
- Obtain final approval from relevant organisations (such as external auditors and parent department) to publish
- Confirm how many print copies are required
- If the publishing contractor is not being used to supply print copies, agree a print copy delivery date with the publishing contractor. Obtain packing and labelling requirements
- Send final print file to your print supplier
- For the 'publish-only' option, send copy of print file and a web accessible PDF to the publishing contractor
- HM Treasury lays central departments' annual reports and accounts. Departments should liaise with HM Treasury to ensure that copies of the report and accounts have reached the Treasury in time to meet the planned laying date
- Executive agencies and other arms-length bodies should liaise with HM Treasury, or their parliamentary unit or that of their parent department, to ensure the report is laid in Parliament
- For HC Papers, ensure that the publishing contractor is able to publish a web enabled PDF of the report and accounts on OfficialDocuments on the day of publication after laying. This requirement also applies to un-numbered Act Papers from central government organisations
*The NAO has prepared checklists which document all of the matters that should be addressed, where appropriate, in a set of annual reports and accounts. It would be useful to look at these checklists in advance to ensure that the timetables for laying accounts are not delayed because of omissions in the accounts.
The NAO has also published a two page guide on governance statements. This guide has been prepared by reviewing a number of departments and arm's length bodies across government and drawing out some of the key messages arising from the first year implementing the governance statements. It would be useful for organisations to begin to engage with those charged with governance to ensure that the governance statements in their annual reports and accounts adhere to best practice.