Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General updating his Report HC 563 Session 1999-2000

  The C&AG's report "Maintaining the Royal Palaces" was published on 22 June 2000 and is, of course, the subject of the Committee's hearing next Monday (18 December). The C&AG thought that the Chairman might like to know that the Department for Culture, Media and Sports have addressed the three recommendations on page 4 of the report and have implemented them as follows:

Recommendation 1—The Department should ensure that each year they have sufficient information to satisfy themselves about the amount available from Windsor Castle precincts receipts for property services.

  The Department have asked the Royal Collection's auditors to let them have certified statements to the calculation of the sum due to accrue to the property services grant in aid from the Windsor Castle precincts receipts for the years 1998-99 and 1999-2000 and to provide these to them in future years.

Recommendation 2—Although the Royal Household have now largely cleared the maintenance backlog they inherited, the Department should seek explicit assurance from their independent consultants that, in view of the reduced maintenance spend, necessary maintenance work is not being overlooked.

  The Department have discussed this recommendation with the Royal Household and have now commissioned their consultants to check that all significant recommendations in the quinquennial surveys appear as projects in the Royal Household's plans and are carried out. The first review will concentrate on the latest quinquennial survey of Buckingham Palace.

Recommendation 3—The Department and the Royal Household should consider whether the suite of performance indicators already published in the Royal Household's annual report could usefully be complemented - in particular by covering performance on the large number of small projects.

  The Royal Household have introduced a new performance indicator based on technical audits, undertaken by independent external surveyors, of projects budgeted to cost between £2,500 and £25,000. The Department told the NOA that this indicator, which assesses the overall performance on smaller projects, is based on a detailed review of a sample of three per cent of invoices paid. The target is to achieve 90 per cent of invoices with a favourable overall result (e.g. the work was needed, good value for money was achieved and administrative procedures were followed). The Royal Household state that historical performance is as follows:

  Audits carried out in:

    —  1997-98 — 93 per cent favourable results

    —  1998-99 — 97 per cent

    —  1999-2000 — 91 per cent

    —  2000-01 (first two quarters) - 94 per cent

  Paragraph 4.9 of the Report makes reference to post-project reviews. The Department have told the NAO that the Royal Household have shared with them the results of 10 such reviews and that another two are due to be completed in the next two months.

Comptroller and Auditor General

13 December 2000

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