On this page we share resources such as frameworks and guides that can aid organisations’ self-assessment and decision-making. They outline methodologies we have used to assess both whole-organisation effectiveness and discrete functions and projects.
The documents range from narrowly-focused to comprehensive ones, and may include examples of good practice, case studies, checklists, questions and templates. They are only guides to approach; all decision-making must depend on the individual context.
Other related NAO resources include:
- audit methodology insights
- departmental overviews
- technical guidance – such as guides on Financial Reporting Manual (FReM), governance statements and support for Boards and Audit Committees.
- Useful publications on key issues are highlighted on our ‘Topics’ pages.
- Transformation guidance for audit committees: A guide to questions to ask during set-up, delivery and live-running of transformation programmes
- Cyber security and information risk guidance for Audit Committees
- Framework to review models: This framework aids those seeking to determine the robustness and reasonableness of models, key to aiding decision-making.
- Forecasting in government to achieve value for money
- Performance measurement: Good practice criteria and maturity model
- Option Appraisal: Making informed decisions in Government
- Research and development evaluative framework: This is specifically intended to support evaluation of the effectiveness of research funding coordination arrangements, but can be applied to all matters needing cross-government coordination.
- Good practice guide: Managing risks in government (pdf – 433KB)
- Short Guide to reorganising arm’s length bodies
Finance, resource and cost management
- Survival guide to challenging costs in major projects
- Financial Management Maturity Model: Enables organisations to self-assess the current maturity of their financial management practices and identify aims for further development.
- Delivering value and accountability – Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) and NAO expert panel report: Sets out ways a strong, integrated finance function can help accounting officers, permanent secretaries and boards deliver value and support accountability, including through best use of costing information and techniques.
- Competitive and demand-led grants: good practice guide: A toolkit for grant programmes’ administrators and SROs seeking assurance on grants for which they are responsible.
- A framework for managing staff costs in a period of spending reduction
- A short guide to structured cost reduction: Based on our examination of different approaches to cost reduction, from reengineering processes and the greater use of technology through to major departmental change programmes.
- Good practice from the Excellence in Reporting in the Public Sector Award – Examples of good practice from 2017 annual reports.
- Due diligence processes for potential donations – a good practice guide to managing income from donations and the associated risks
- Managing complex capital investment programmes utilising private finance: A guide to HM Treasury and NAO’s expectations of how departments should manage programmes involving PPP and PFI, including how to undertake key functions, what good looks like and case studies.
- A Framework for evaluating the implementation of Private Finance Initiative projects
- Understanding fraud and error: a primer (pdf – 281 KB): Setting out how HMRC and DWP define, measure and manage fraud and error, this primer offers useful lessons for all departments considering how to tackle fraud and error.
Project and operations management
- Managing business operations – what government needs to get right
- Briefing: Lessons for major service transformation (pdf – 115KB)
- Framework to review programmes
- NAO Guide: Initiating successful projects
- The Delivery Environment Complexity Analytic (DECA): Understanding challenges in delivering project objectives: A tool enabling users to consider the likely impact of 12 key influencers of success or failure. It can be used to develop a high-level understanding of an organisation, to assess the challenges of a specific major project, or for wider strategic and risk planning.
- Over-optimism in government projects
Contract management and commissioning
- Good practice contract management framework: A good practice guide focused on the contract management stage of the framework from a detailed, operational perspective.
- Framework for managing contracts and commercial relationships: An auditing framework that can aid organisations’ own assessment of the value for money being derived from contracts and commercial relationships. It is based on the accompanying ‘Commercial and contract management: insights and emerging best practice’.
- Outcome-based payment schemes: Analytical framework for decision-makers: A good practice guide for the selection, design and implementation of payment by results schemes in public services, published alongside our report on the government’s use of payment by results.
- Successful Commissioning Guide: A toolkit to help commissioners secure value for money through better financial relationships with third sector organisations.
- Decommissioning Toolkit: A comprehensive guide to planning and managing the decommissioning of public services delivered by third sector organisations.
Public sector markets
Statistical and other guides
- A practical guide to sampling: Outlines the general steps undertaken in financial and VFM audit when sampling a population, showing the different sampling methods and when they are suitable.
- Conflicts of interest: With services increasingly commissioned and delivered by parties at arm’s length from departments, this report defines and provides guidance on how to manage conflicts of interest.
- Assessment criteria for whistleblowing policies: A checklist and guidance is based on sources such as Public Concern at Work, fraud experts and academics, and our own experience of whistleblowing practice.
- Private sector partnering in the police service: A practical guide to major business partnering, custody partnering and consultancy support: Produced in collaboration with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
- Technical guidance: Provides further resources on Financial Reporting Manual (FReM), governance statements and support for Boards and Audit Committees.