Select Committee on Public Accounts Eleventh Report


  The primary objective of the National Audit Office is to support Parliament's scrutiny of government programmes by providing:

    —  independent assurance and advice on the proper accounting for central Government expenditure, revenue, assets and liabilities, and on the regularity and propriety of transactions; and

    —  independent reports on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which Government departments and other bodies use resources, whilst also helping them provide better value for money.

  The Office's corporate plan sets out the main features of its strategy for the next three years, updating and developing the programme endorsed by the Public Accounts Commission in July 2001.

  Chapter 1 sets out the National Audit Office's main achievements in 2001-02:

    —  meeting its target of saving the taxpayer eight times its net costs;

    —  completing the audit of over 600 accounts; and

    —  producing 50 value for money and other major reports on a diverse range

of subjects.

  Chapters 2 and 3 examine this work in depth and explain how financial audit and value for money work will continue to support Parliament in its scrutiny of government programmes.

  With Parliament's support, the Office makes an important contribution to audit and accountability on a wider stage. Chapter 4 explains the Office's role in auditing United Nations and other international organisations and the Office's success in using its expertise to provide pre-accession advice to countries intending to join the European Community.

  Chapter 5 sets out the National Audit Office's forecast net resource requirement for the next three years. Despite a significant new workload arising from the implementation of recommendations contained in Lord Sharman's Report "Holding to Account, The Review of Audit and Accountability for Central Government" and the increasing complexity of financial audit and value for money work, the Office could contain its bid to an increase of 6 per cent. This would be within the proposed increase of 7.8 per cent in public sector expenditure which will be subject to audit.

  An increase of 6 per cent would enable the National Audit Office to implement the recommendations in Lord Sharman's report, deliver its core statutory responsibilities and maintain its service to Parliament. In March 2002, the Public Accounts Commission invited the National Audit Office to suggest ways in which it could expand the scope of its scrutiny to strengthen Parliamentary oversight of Government programmes.

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Prepared 7 November 2002