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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.

We audit the financial statements of all central government departments, agencies and other public bodies, and report the results to Parliament. Our other work comprises value-for-money studies, local audit, investigations, support to Parliament and international activities. We also share our cross-government insight through guides setting out good practice and the questions we ask when assessing value for money.

Our recommendations and reports help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of £741 million in 2017, equivalent to £11 saved for every pound spent running the NAO.

How we work

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

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

Our strategy

In order to meet our strategic objective of accountability and public service improvement, we focus on three enablers:

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

To find out how we use these enablers in our work, download the NAO Strategy 2018-19 to 2020-21.

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 external auditors; and
• commissions value for money studies of our work.

More information about the NAO can be found in the documents below.

An introduction to the National Audit Office (pdf – 636 KB)

NAO Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18