Audit committees in Scottish local authorities 1998-2005

William Henry*, Margaret Crawford, Melina M. Manochin, James McKendrick, Brenda Porter, William Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the last 15 years corporate governance has become increasingly prominent in the public sector. The Audit Commission's 1993 report on probity in local government recommended the establishment of audit committees. However, progress on this was slow, as demonstrated by a survey of Scottish local authorities by the authors in 1998. Recent major changes in government in Scotland at both a local and national level have prompted councils to improve the accountability, openness and integrity of their operations. One major aspect of this exercise was the formation of scrutiny committees to provide objective scrutiny of the process and audit committees were the most common vehicle for this. This article explores recent developments in Scottish local government and their impact on audit committees. The article also reports the results of a 2005 survey of Scottish local authorities and compares these with the 1998 survey. This indicates a significant growth in the number of audit committees in Scottish councils and although the level of their perceived effectiveness is patchy, they are a more important feature of local government than they were in 1998.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-318
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Policy and Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


  • audit committees
  • corporate governance
  • local authorities
  • scrutiny


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