Our role

The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending for Parliament. Our public audit perspective helps Parliament hold government to account and improve public services.

Our audit work has two main aims:

  • We report audit results to Parliament, to help to hold government departments and other bodies to account for how they use public money, which safeguards taxpayers’ interests.
  • Through our value-for-money work, we report on whether departments and other bodies have used public money efficiently, effectively and with economy. We provide the Committee of Public Accounts (the Committee) with a range of such reports, as well as briefings and analysis, to support its inquiries into the value for money of public spending. Our other work includes investigations, reports on good practice and support to other select committees.

The Committee considers most of the value-for-money reports we publish at its evidence sessions. This senior parliamentary select committee uses our findings to question witnesses from government departments about spending.

We, and the Committee, do not question government policies but examine objectively and independently the value for money with which departments and other bodies implement those policies.

How we work

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Amyas Morse, leads the NAO and is an Officer of the House of Commons. He and the staff of the NAO (about 800 people) are independent of government. They are not civil servants and do not report to a minister.

The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy.

The C&AG uses his powers to:

  • decide which value-for-money examinations to carry out;
  • decide how to report results to Parliament; and
  • use rights of access to documents and staff to get information and explanations.

Our staff have diverse skills and roles – they include statisticians, economists, accountants and specialists in digital services, corporate finance and local government.

What we do

We focus on three strategic objectives:

  • to develop and apply our knowledge;
  • to achieve high performance; and
  • to increase our influence.

To achieve this, we gain insight about what enables and inhibits good performance in departments and across government. Using our expertise, we use this knowledge to help departments and the public sector to improve their performance.

Who oversees us

A Parliamentary committee of MPs, the Public Accounts Commission, oversees our work. The Commission:

  • approves our budget
  • scrutinises our costs and performance
  • appoints our external auditors
  • commissions value-for-money studies of our work

View these slides

An introduction to the National Audit Office (PDF – 688KB)

National Audit Office Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16 (PDF – 255KB)