NAO Board and Leadership Team

The Board of the NAO advises the Comptroller & Auditor General (C&AG) on the strategic direction for the NAO, including its strategic objectives and plans, and the governance of the NAO.

The Board comprises:

  • an independent non-executive Chairman;
  • four other non-executive board members drawn from outside the NAO;
  • the C&AG;
  • the Chief Operating Officer; and
  • two Executive Leaders.

The Board is supported by a Leadership Team

The Leadership Team is an executive group responsible for running the NAO.

Terms of reference

Minutes of meetings of the Board

Travel and hospitality expenditure

Non-Executive Chairman

Lord Bichard

Lord BichardMichael Bichard has served at very senior levels in local government as Chief Executive at both Brent and Gloucestershire. He then moved into central government working as Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency and then as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Employment.

Since his retirement from the Civil Service in 2001, he has held a variety of posts including Chair of the Legal Services Commission, Chair of the Design Council and founder Director of the Institute for Government. He is currently Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

Non-Executive Members

Naaz Coker

Naaz Coker

Naaz Coker started her career in the NHS working as a pharmaceutical officer before becoming a clinical director and general manager. She served as a Director at the King’s Fund and was Chair of the British Refugee Council for eight years.

Naaz served as Chair of the St George’s NHS Trust until 2011 and was named Asian Woman of the Year in 2000 and 2003.

Joanne Shaw

Joanne ShawJoanne Shaw is an experienced non-executive director and board chair with a background in private, public and third sector organisations. She is a qualified accountant with expertise in strategic development and change management.

More recently she served as non-executive Chair of NHS Direct, and is currently on the board of the British Board of Film Classification and two healthcare organisations, Nuffield Health and Datapharm Communications Limited.

Ray Shostak

Ray ShostakRay Shostak, CBE, is an international adviser in education, government performance and public service reform. He was Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, Director General Performance Management and member of the Board of Her Majesty’s Treasury from 2007 to 2011. Previously, Ray served as Director of Public Services at HM Treasury and has had responsibility for a wide variety of public service and spending control issues. Prior to joining the Treasury, he was the first Director of Children, Schools and Families at Hertfordshire County Council. He has also worked as Head of Pupil Performance in the Department of Education and Skills; and held a number of senior roles in local government.

Ray is currently Chair of Trustees of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies, a Trustee of the Early Intervention Foundation and is an Honorary Norham Fellow at Oxford University. Ray was awarded an Honorary CBE for services to education by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005.

Robert Sykes

Robert SykesRobert Sykes has significant experience of working in local government, and served as Chief Executive of Worcestershire County Council for ten years. He also has non-executive experience in the private and public Sectors, most recently serving on the Boards of Core Assets and as non-executive member of the Board of the Crown Prosecution Service until 2012.

In 2012 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as Lead Commissioner at Doncaster MBC. He left in the summer of 2014 when the intervention successfully ended. In addition he has been the Chair of a Joint Commissioning Board for Adult Services in recent years. He will bring his experience of local government to the Board of the NAO, at the time in which the NAO takes up additional responsibilities for this sector.

Comptroller and Auditor General

Amyas Morse

Amyas Morse

Amyas Morse was appointed Comptroller and Auditor General on 1 June 2009.

Amyas was born in Edinburgh, and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. He led the Coopers and Lybrand practice in Scotland, before moving to London to manage the London City Office. He subsequently became the Executive Partner of the Coopers and Lybrand UK firm. When PricewaterhouseCoopers was formed, he took on global responsibilities, and served as Global Leader of Assurance practice (audit and related services), and then as Global Managing Partner (Operations).

Amyas Morse joined the Ministry of Defence in July 2006 as the Defence Commercial Director. During his time as Defence Commercial Director he was responsible for shaping the Department’s relationship with industry, and he played a key role in the agreement of strategic commercial arrangements. More widely across government, he served as a member of the Major Projects Review Group, the Public Sector Board of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, and on a National Health Service Project Board.

Chief Operating Officer

Michael Whitehouse

Michael Whitehouse

Michael Whitehouse was appointed Chief Operating Officer for the NAO on 1 July 2009.

Michael is CIPFA qualified and has had responsibility for a range of portfolios both as Assistant Auditor General (from 2002) and as Director (from 1990). Michael has extensive experience of value for money work across government including defence, foreign affairs and international aid, agriculture and economic regulation. Michael spent 15 months working in New Zealand with the Office of the Auditor General. In 1992 he was seconded to the Ministry of Finance in Zambia where he led a nine month review of Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). From 1994 to 1997, he was the UK Audit Commissioner for the European Space Agency.

As well as having responsibility for strategy and the operational performance and capability of the NAO Michael leads the NAO’s work on cross government systemic issues. Michael is an executive member of the NAO Board.

Executive Leaders

Gabrielle Cohen

Gabrielle Cohen

Gabrielle has been an Assistant Auditor General since 2005 having joined the NAO in 1987 and trained as an accountant.

Gabrielle is responsible for leading our stakeholder relations. This includes responsibility for all our interactions with Parliament and developing a strategic approach to the management of NAO relations with the bodies subject to its scrutiny and other key external stakeholders. Core to this aspect of her role is to increase the NAO’s impact by securing increased take up of its recommendations and the good practice guidance it produces. It includes responsibility for communications, media handling, knowledge management and marketing. Gabrielle also has responsibility for NAO Governance, relations with the Board and corporate policy. Gabrielle is an executive member of the NAO Board.

Dr Sally Howes

Dr Sally Howes

Sally’s career began in Logica Space and Defence Systems, developing real time systems and working on international satellite programmes. She left to start-up a technology consultancy (SME) business which undertook a mix of policy, strategy, software and systems development for international clients in the space, defence, broadcasting and communications sectors. Sally was initially Commercial Director and then became Managing Director. She was awarded an OBE for services to the space industry in 2002.

After 12 years, she moved on to become the Director General of the Society of British Aerospace Companies (now ADS). During 4 years leading this national trade association, she delivered a fast paced business transformation programme, was responsible for Farnborough Air Shows in 2004 and 2006 and represented the UK aerospace and defence industry with Government in Whitehall, Washington, Brussels and Tokyo. She worked for 2 years in MOD as Director Commercial Services and joined the NAO in 2010, as Director ICT and Systems Analysis to direct the organisations work on government ICT, build new skills and establish more profile for this work. She joined NAO’s leadership team as the Executive Leader, Digital and Innovation in 2013.

Sally is also a Visiting Professor at Surrey University and from September 2014 will chair the Institute for Engineering and Technology Policy Panel on IT.

Martin Sinclair

Martin Sinclair

Martin has been an AAG since 1999, having joined the National Audit Office in 1981. From 1989 to 1992 he was Private Secretary to the Comptroller and Auditor General. From 1992 to 1994 he was UK Director of Audit operations at the United Nations Board of Auditors based in New York. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and was elected to its Council in 2007. He is Chair of CIPFA’s Accounting and Auditing Standards Panel and a member of a range of professional committees.

Martin is responsible for the audit of a broad portfolio of clients including the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Northern Ireland Office and Parliament, embracing both value for money and financial audit assignments. He also oversees the NAO’s international activities. This includes the audit of international public sector organisations and a programme of technical cooperation assistance to other supreme audit institutions worldwide.

John Thorpe


John Thorpe joined the Leadership Team in January 2014, assuming responsibility for NAO’s work on economic affairs. John qualified as an accountant with the NAO. He has experience of directing a mixed portfolio of work, providing leadership to the financial audit work-stream, and achieving significant progress in key areas – such as the understanding of fraud and error in welfare benefits. John is an executive member of the NAO Board.

Sue Higgins


Sue Higgins joined the NAO in January 2014 as Executive Leader, Local Services with responsibility for the NAO’s work on local government, education and health. Sue previously held Director General roles in the Cabinet Office, DCLG and Department for Education and senior finance roles in the local government sector, including the London Borough of Sutton and Slough Borough Council.

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