Graduate auditors keep the House in order

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Graduates Audit Trainees are working to make sure government assets are kept in order.

The National Audit Office is responsible for ensuring the government and the state's assets are accounted for and government funds are spent efficiently. Graduate trainees joining the organisation help keep the government's books in order while providing valuable work to improve services such as the NHS.

Monitoring the assets owned by the state enables trainees to work on a range of projects. Rohan Soni, an Accounting and Finance graduate from the University of Manchester, says he learnt on one of his first assignments how varied the work can be - and how vital it is.

"One of my earliest pieces of work at the NAO was a stock take completion as part of the Ministry of Defence Audit," he says. "The assets being audited were fighter jets so we visited an RAF base to do the testing. I was given a list of serial numbers for the planes I needed to check and we had to ensure that all the aircraft we were looking for really did exist and didn't have any damage."

"It's important to do this when stock taking because if any assets are damaged, it might suggest a valuation is inaccurate and the item would need to be impaired-this means reducing the value of the asset in the financial statements."

Rohan didn't expect auditing to take him so far out into the field.

"It made a change from working in the office," he says, "and certainly wasn't what I expect to be doing when I signed up to become an auditor!"

Shelagh Dale works for the Parliament team in the National Audit Office. She says there is no item too big for the NAO to take account of - including Big Ben.

"My main responsibility was to check that physical assets which the House records as owning in its financial statements actually exist," she says. "The list of items that I had to test included Big Ben. By seeing Big Ben, I was able to confirm that a very valuable asset on the House's accounts did exist."

The work undertaken by graduate trainees helps make improvement to essential services. Emily Hopkinson worked on a study of maternity care in the NHS, a report which made the newspapers.

"MPs at the Parliamentary Accounts Committee discussed our work and made a number of recommendations to NHS England and the Department of Health," she says. "Our report got extensive press coverage."

Emily was pleased to see that her work had a direct impact on services offered in the United Kingdom.

"I was impressed that so many high profile people and organisations engaged with and commented on our work," she says.