National Audit Office
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National Audit OfficeA non-departmental public body (quango) which scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament. The National Audit Office (NAO) audit of central government reports its results directly to Parliament, thereby holding government departments and bodies accountable for the way they use public money, and thus safeguarding taxpayers’ interests. In addition, the NAO aims to help public service managers improve performance and service delivery. Audit and inspection rights are vested in the head of the NAO, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), who is an Officer of the House of Commons and completely independent of government. The NAO can comment objectively and independently, and thus cannot act as adviser on specific government decisions. Oversight of the NAO is carried out by a Parliamentary committee, the Public Accounts Commission, which appoints NAO external auditors and scrutinises NAO performance. The NAO’s strategic priorities are to identify recurring issues across different government departments and bodies, including general areas where improvement is often needed, focusing on:
• Informed government, encouraging it to do more to base its decision-making on reliable, comprehensive and comparable information;
• Financial management and reporting, to improve management of activities; and
• Cost-effective delivery, so that departments better understand key elements in the delivery cycle and what they cost.