Keeping secrets? Or what government performance auditors might not need to know
This paper examines the claims made in a recent paper in Critical Perspectives on Accounting by Vaughan Radcliffe about the way in which public sector auditors report their findings. Drawing upon the work of Taussig, he argues that while public sector auditors may know the truth, as may others, they choose not always to tell the truth in their reports and instead to treat what may be publicly unpalatable as a public secret. They modify their findings to ensure that these will be more acceptable to governments and, thereby, enhance their opportunity to influence government. These claims are shown in this paper to overstate the public sector auditor's response to difficult issues. Rather than keeping secrets, the contents of the auditor's reports may instead reflect the constitutional and institutional limitations in which they must work. Most importantly in most jurisdictions they are not to comment on matters of policy which are the domain of the government.