Posted on December 14, 2015 by Amyas Morse
In my discussions with the organisations we audit, and in their formal feedback to us, they tell us how much they value the knowledge and insight the NAO can share from our work across government. They want to see the good practice, hear the lessons, and discover opportunities to learn from others and reduce duplication. As Head of the NAO, I’m delighted to respond to this request by launching this ‘NAO blog’ and the associated new ‘Topics’ pages on our website. They are among a number of ways we are investing in doing more to share with and help public bodies.
Public sector leaders tell us that what keeps them awake at night relates to the huge changes in government:
- Ongoing budget cuts mean value for money needs to be extracted from every pound
- To do this means applying best practice in programme, operational and financial management
- It also frequently means transforming the way public services are managed and delivered…
- … including by devolving services so local bodies can tailor approaches to local needs
- All within a challenging international context.
To help address these issues, our new ‘Topics’ pages highlight those reports that have widest application, including good practice guides, cross-government reviews and other reports on common issues.
Reports such as those on these pages are the key way we achieve our aim of driving public service improvement. Our recent summary of Impacts from our work, 2014 shows just how much benefit is achieved through our recommendations: £1.15billion in savings and a wide range of non-financial benefits in 2014. I’d like to mention just a few examples of non-financial impacts from our work, illustrating the types of reports that can be found on our new Topics pages.
- Our involvement in a government review of its contract management and our subsequent 2014 report, Transforming government’s contract management, led the government to implement improvements to governance, information systems and structures across government, and introduce major reforms to the commercial profession.
- Our report Managing Debt owed to Central Government initiated updated central guidance, departmental debt strategies that use the NAO’s suggested performance measures to establish a consistent government-wide approach to monitoring debt performance for the first time, and a new company to manage government debt.
- In the context of reduction in local authority funding, our report Financial sustainability of local authorities 2014, has both improved the way the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) estimates local authority spending requirements and assesses the potential impacts of spending reductions, and has been used widely by the sector, including to inform debate about devolution.
These are just some of the ways our reports help identify and drive improvement. However, we are unable to conduct studies covering all of the 350 or so organisations we audit and, as independent auditors, we can not provide specific advice for future actions. Rather, it is by comparing and sharing across government that our work can drive improvements for all public bodies.
So I urge you to use our Topics pages on our website to find the reports that can best help you address the issues that matter to you, and sign up to alerts to our new publications and blog posts. We also share our knowledge and insights by speaking at others’ events, holding seminars of our own, and bringing together individuals facing similar issues, as we know – again, because you told us – that you can learn much from each other.
Through our blog and events we’ll introduce you to the individuals who lead our work in these issues. I invite you to respond to our blog posts with your own comments and to contact us directly. We would greatly welcome your views: on the insights we share, your own experience and perspective, and issues on which you would like us to blog.
I look forward to hearing from you and engaging to work together to improve public services.About the author: Amyas Morse, Comptroller and Auditor General. Amyas has been head of the NAO since 2009, before which he was a global partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Commercial Director at the Ministry of Defence. He has served on a range of cross-government Boards and Groups.
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