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Civil servant emerges as likely government CFO

WHITEHALL has chosen an internal candidate as the first chief financial officer to oversee government spending in favour of applicants from the FTSE 100 and Big Four accountancy firms, the Financial Times reported.

According to the FT, a senior civil servant has been selected from a four-strong shortlist, which included private sector candidates, and is a qualified accountant whose appointment has been approved by the chancellor George Osborne and Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.

The new position combines the existing role of head of the government finance profession with that of the Treasury’s director general public spending and will report directly to Sharon White, second permanent secretary to the Treasury.

The position was created after a financial management review, and followed calls from the ICAEW for changes to the way government manages public money following a damning report into the botched introduction of David Cameron’s flagship programme of welfare reforms.

In a scathing assessment, the National Audit Office said the Department for Work and Pensions’ universal credit scheme, which replaced various welfare benefits with a single payment, has suffered from “weak management, ineffective control and poor governance”.

The job specification called for “an outstanding record of financial management in a large and complex environment” while the ICAEW has warned that the position, which will have a formal management relationship with all the heads of finance across departments, could require someone with “superhuman” abilities.

The name of the chief financial officer is expected to be announced this week.

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