Who we are
The National Audit Office (NAO) is the UK’s independent public spending watchdog.
We support Parliament in holding government to account and we help improve public services through our high-quality audits.
We are independent of government and the civil service. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Gareth Davies, leads the NAO. He is an officer of the House of Commons with statutory authority to:
- audit and report on the financial accounts of all government departments and other public bodies
- examine and report on the value for money of how public money has been spent.
The Public Accounts Commission (TPAC), a parliamentary committee of MPs, oversees our work.
Read more about the governance of the NAO.
We have an ambitious five-year strategy from 2020 to 2025. Its aim is to improve our support to Parliament in examining public sector performance, provide more practical recommendations that lead to better outcomes, and share more of our independent insight. Read more about our recent impacts in our Annual Report and Accounts 2022-23.
Our work helps Parliament’s scrutiny of government, achieves a positive financial impact and makes a difference to people’s lives.
We support the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). It uses our reports to hold evidence sessions focused on public spending and scrutinising the implementation of government policy.
Audited bodies are required to respond to recommendations made by PAC which are often based on our work.
Read more about our support to Parliament.
We report on issues that matter to citizens – for example, our work on government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our investigation into the Windrush compensation scheme, and our report on the Green Homes Grant Scheme.
Our work has a positive financial impact through reduced costs, improved service delivery and other benefits to citizens.
Our people are experts in a wide range of specialisms. We work together to audit public spending and share our insights to drive improvements in the public sector.
We provide an independent audit opinion on around 400 accounts per year. The C&AG certifies these accounts and reports the results to Parliament.
We audit public sector accounts, including:
- All government departments
- Executive agencies
- Arm’s-length bodies
- Companies, audited under statute or on a voluntary basis
- Some charities
Our work provides increased transparency that money is spent in line with Parliament’s intention. It gives government bodies the insight they need to manage taxpayers’ money more effectively.
See our latest Financial Audit reports.
Value for money
We report to Parliament on whether government is delivering value for money.
We define good value for money as the optimal use of resources (economy, efficiency and effectiveness) to achieve the intended outcomes.
We publish around 60 value-for-money reports per year. These reports are impactful, timely and relevant and respond to complex challenges facing government. We make recommendations in these reports on how government can achieve value for money and improve services.
We also publish responsive reports to establish facts where there are concerns about emerging public spending issues.
In delivering our work, our role is not to question government policy objectives. We look at how government has spent money delivering those policies and if that money has been used in the best way to achieve the intended outcome.
See our latest value for money reports.
Our expert insight teams provide valuable and practical insights on how public services can be improved.
We draw these from our extensive work focused on the issues that are a priority for government, where we observe both innovations and recurring issues.
Our insight work includes:
- Lessons learned publications – these draw together what we know on cross-cutting issues that matter to government
- Good practice guides – accessible guides that provide practical overviews and tips to help stakeholders involved in delivering or overseeing public services
See our latest insight publications.
Our international work helps us learn from other audit offices across the world to strengthen our own efficiency and insight. We have three areas of work:
- International relations – we work with other audit institutions and international forums to share experiences and collaborate on global audit issues
- International audit – we are the external auditor of some international organisations
- Technical cooperation – we help audit institutions in countries that receive UK aid
Code of audit practice
We are responsible for maintaining and publishing the Code of Audit Practice, which is approved by Parliament.
The code sets out what the auditors of local government and health bodies are required to do to fulfil their statutory responsibilities.
Read more about the code of audit practice.