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Accountability, Accounting and Regulation

University of East Anglia
April 2002

CARR and the University of East Anglia's Centre for Competition and Regulation (CCR), with funding from the ESRC, held its first conference last month when around 50 delegates from universities, industry and regulators met to discuss accountability and regulation in the professions.

"The main issue facing the professions - such as law, medicine and accounting - is that regulation in these areas is not perceived to be sufficiently independent," says conference speaker, Peter Russell (CCR). "There are now moves to introduce more independent regulatory schemes. The conference provided a platform for discussion of these issues, and a chance to consider models from other areas."

Sir John Bourn, Comptroller and Auditor General and Head of the National Audit Office gave the keynote address on a new scheme of regulation for accountants. Dr Anne Davis of Oxford University continued with a discussion on regulation of the medical profession outlining various models of accountability.

Delegates then turned their attention to regulation and accountability within the privatised utilities, such as water, gas and electricity, with a presentation by Dr Martin Lodge and Mr Lindsay Stirton from CARR on transparency in network regulation.

Prof Stuart Ogden of UMIST focused in particular on accountability in the privatised water industry, while Peter Russell and Ian Dewing (CCR) moved on to look at who the auditors are accountable to, and the issue of providing different information to different audiences, such as regulators and shareholders.

The event ended with a discussion by Prof Catherine Waddams and Dr Lynne Conrad (CCR) on accountability in regulation in which they explored changing concepts of public interest.