Guidance on the phasing of training for users of
accounting and budgeting information
A number of departments have asked for guidance on how training
might be phased in over the period 1996 to 2000. At this stage
it is difficult to give other than general indications, since:
- the timing for moving the Survey onto a resource basis has yet
to be finalised. The current working assumption is that there
will be phased
introduction and that 1999 will be the main transition year to
a Survey incorporating many elements of full resource-based process.
- the final responsibility for training rests with departments,
each with their own timescale for the introduction of the new
form of accounts. The
assumption below is that resource accounts will be produced for
the first time for 1998-9.
2. In the light of the above, some principles for the training
process might be to:
- reflect the requirements of those involved as closely as possible.
Training that is too general ("accountancy for non-financial
managers") too linked to the private sector ("company
accounts for beginners") or delivered to those about to move
to other jobs will be a waste of scarce time.
- often focus on providing the necessary skills to allow non-specialists
to know how to use specialists, rather than having to acquire
all the specialist knowledge themselves
- cover the output and performance measurement aspects of resource
accounting and budgeting as well as accrual-based accounting
- not come too early, since the knowledge will atrophy without
a context and early reinforcement through use.
3. For what will normally be most of those in managerial positions
using the new information as part of financial decision-taking,
the training will need a link to the decisions to be taken. To
take some examples (in diminishing order of time required):
- those responsible for the management of the departmental estate
will need detailed knowledge of the principles of accounting for
fixed assets and the capital charging regime
- those dealing with working capital will need elementary instruction
in working capital management
- those involved in decisions about costs (presumably including
most of the senior and middle management) will need background
briefing to show the relationship between cash and accruals accounting
4. While many departments are already developing training strategies
for resource accounting, it is important that these also read
across to the
timetable for implementing resource budgeting. The timetable for
the latter will be clearer by early 1997 and departments may then
wish to consider how to achieve this read-across.
5. The timing of the training could be linked to the production
of the first information to be available. Departments that have
not already done so may wish to consider producing outline plans
(and to compare these with those of other departments) in the
latter part of 1996, on the assumption that training for the new
skills will be required in the period 1997 to 2000, with particular
emphasis on 1998 and 1999. After 2000, the skills will form a
normal part of the requirements for Civil Servants in senior managerial
or relevant functional positions.
6. For those involved in the Survey, it is clearly essential that
departments and the Treasury share a common skill base. While
the details will need to be settled for each Survey in the transitional
years, an incremental approach to training would seem sensible.
The content and phasing will need to reflect the current state
of accountancy knowledge among those responsible for the Survey,
the implementation timetable for the department and the degree
of change in the new Survey process (some departments will change
far more than others).
7. Departments will need to keep a close watch on the training
implications of any phased introduction of elements of resource
budgeting into the
Survey and respond with provision accordingly. Subject to such
year-by-year requirements and overall decisions on phasing, a
possible pattern of
training might involve awareness briefing in the first part of
1997, to include an understanding of the treatment of capital.
A second phase in early to mid-1998 might cover the general principles
of accruals accounting applied to central government. A third
stage, in late 1998 to early 1999 (which will benefit from information
increasingly available from the new databases to provide real-life
examples) could use detailed guidance to run through the differences
from the cash-based Survey.
FINANCIAL TRAINING NETWORK