We help Parliament hold government to account for spending public money and, in so doing, drive improvements in public services. To achieve this, we provide system wide, integrated and independent public audit, drawing on the distinctive framework of rights set out for us by Parliament.
Our strategy 2019-2020 to 2021-2022 sets out how the NAO will meet new challenges and maximise our effectiveness to support Parliament in holding government to account and improving public services, and the resources we need to do this.
We describe progress against our three strategic objectives – to apply knowledge, increase our influence, and be a high-performing organisation – and how we can best serve Parliament and respond to changes in the external environment that affect us and the bodies we audit.
The public sector is working against a backdrop of uncertainty and constant change. The UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), the outcome of which is still largely unknown, is an unprecedented test for government and public bodies. To allow an orderly departure from the EU, there are more demands on public servants’ policy-making capacity and their ability to set up new processes and systems. Public servants will continue to have to plan for multiple outcomes as uncertainty continues. Alongside this, departments and local authorities continue to provide necessary public services and various transformation projects during a period of limited resources.
Given the importance of the UK’s exit from the EU and the way it will affect all government departments, our four main priority areas for the coming strategy period are to serve Parliament by:
• delivering high quality work, using modern audit techniques, to address the most challenging issues for the public sector, and in particular exiting the EU;
• providing those we audit with better insight into how they manage and use public money and responding to feedback for better communication about the benefits of our audit work;
• supporting our people to develop the right skills so in turn they can produce audit work that responds to changes in the public sector, technology and auditing practice; and
• putting in place suitable digital technologies and security to support our people and allow information-led decision-making and effective work practices.
By producing high-quality, relevant work, the recommendations from our work are more likely to result in financial savings for the taxpayer and positive changes in how government runs itself, public services and major projects and programmes. Our interventions now look at programmes earlier in their lifecycle and at the planning stage as failure can become built in at an early stage of a project. Our recommendations help put in place governance and financial management practices, contributing to the success of these projects. We aim for this to continue over the period of this strategy.