The National Audit Office delivered a damning report on the Home Office last week, blaming failures with new accounting systems for the department's inability to deliver its accounts on time.
The NAO report said, "The Adelphi accounting system could not deal with failed payments processed through the Bank Automated Clearing System, and Oracle consultants were employed to fix the glitch between May and November 2004."
The NAO painted a different picture to that of the Home Office in its Departmental Report 2004-05, published in June 2005. The report described "successfully rolling out and implementing the Adelphi finance system from May 2004". There was no mention of the problems with the system.
However, the NAO said, "During 2004-05, there were significant control weaknesses within key IT applications, which the Home Office has now taken significant steps to address.
"Because of the difficulties in implementing the new accounting system, the Home Office was unable to reconcile its cash position during 2004-05, ie, match its own records of cash payments and receipts with those shown on its bank statements.
"This is a key control for the prevention and detection of fraud. Following significant work by the Home Office to investigate a £3.035m discrepancy, it had to make adjustments of £946m to reconcile its cash position."
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said, "At the time the Departmental Report was drafted we were addressing all issues we were aware of."
The Home Office did not explain why the report itself did not speak about errors in the system or why it said the implementation was a success. "A great deal of work has been done in recent months to put right the problems highlighted by the NAO, which arose from the introduction of a new accounting system in 2004-05," the department said.