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Our purpose 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. Our strategy In order to fulfil our purpose, we have three strategic priorities: Improving our support for effective accountability and scrutiny Increasing our […]

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February 28, 2013

Our purpose

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.

Our strategy

In order to fulfil our purpose, we have three strategic priorities:

  • Improving our support for effective accountability and scrutiny
  • Increasing our impact on outcomes and value for money
  • Providing more accessible independent insight

To achieve these priorities, we have three strategic enablers:

  • We attract, retain and develop high quality people
  • We make more effective use of technology, data and knowledge
  • We aim to be an exemplar organisation

Find out more about our strategy and how it will help us make a bigger difference.

How we work

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Gareth Davies, 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.

Further information about the C&AG’s powers can be found here: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s powers (PDF, 178KB) 

The NAO’s Exchequer Section supports the C&AG in fulfilling his statutory Comptroller responsibilities. These responsibilities require the C&AG to approve the release of funds to HM Treasury and other public bodies, once he has satisfied himself that requests for payment are in line with relevant authorities given by Parliament.

Who oversees us

The Public Accounts Commission (TPAC), a Parliamentary committee of MPs, oversees our work. The commission:

• approves our budget;
• scrutinises our costs and performance;
• appoints our non-executive members; and
• appoints our external auditors.

Find out more about the governance of the NAO.