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About commercial

We are experts on the government’s commercial work, regulation and contract management.

Commercial and regulatory arrangements are central to policies and programmes right across central and local government.

The public sector now buys in more than it spends itself on delivering services, buys increasingly complex things in increasingly complex ways, and regulates large areas of private sector spending.

Our audits have shown government: 

  • how it can improve its commercial and regulatory capability;
  • the value of managing its contracts well; and
  • how to regulate effectively, through reporting on individual programmes and regulatory interventions.

The reports, frameworks and guidance on this page contain advice and tools to support commercial work, regulation and contract management. 


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Commercial and contract management: insights and emerging best practice

An interactive publication drawing on our audits of government contracts.

chairs in Parliament

Commercial and contracting overview 2017-18

A summary of commercial management across government, including advice for assessing future commercial management.

signs to Whitehall and Westminster

Regulation overview 2019

An overview of regulation across government departments.

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A short guide to regulation

Why regulation is needed, how much it costs, and what to look out for.

More publications →

Work in progress

Reducing carbon emissions from cars

Transport is the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions and the bulk of these come from cars. Government wants people to switch to cars that do not emit carbon dioxid

Achieving government’s long-term environmental goals

In January 2018, government published its 25 Year Environment Plan (the Plan), setting out its ambition to improve the natural environment in England within a generation

Achieving net zero

In June 2019, the government passed legislation committing it to achieving ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This means that the UK’s total gree

Managing flood and coastal erosion risks

The Environment Agency estimates that 5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding and that around 700 properties are vulnerable to coastal erosio

Opinion and comment

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Getting contracts right and responding if they go wrong

How to get contracts right, and advice on what to do if they go wrong.

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Do you feel protected as a consumer?

How government can address the challenges of using markets to deliver public services, including consumer protection and regulation.

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Making public sector markets work

The types of consumer detriment, who’s responsible for protecting consumers, and what all this means for consumers.

Infographic: £255 billion: UK government spending on commercial work in 2018-19
Infographic: £4.9 billion: spending by UK regulators in 2018-19

Our Experts

Joshua Reddaway

Joshua leads our team responsible for auditing cross government reviews of contracted-out services and commercial capability, use of our audit rights into government contractors and coordinating our work in commercial issues across the office. He has been at the NAO since 2002.

Charles Nancarrow

Charles leads the team who examine delivery of public policy through regulation, and is our strategic lead on financial analysis. He is a qualified chartered accountant with extensive experience of working in the public sector and international agencies. His work covers a wide area of public sector activity, with recently evaluations including consumer protection issues such as protecting vulnerable consumers and measuring regulatory performance.