Our impact

Being a trainee at the NAO gives you unique access to people, places and experiences that you would not get working anywhere else. The perspective we have across the public sector landscape is unique, as is the impact we have, the assurance we provide to Parliament and the taxpayer, and the positive difference our work makes to vital public services.

Join us as a trainee and you will play a key role in delivering work which…

…saves public money.

  • Savings to the public purse of £1.21 billion in 2015.
  • £19 of financial impacts for every £1 the NAO spends.

…leads to positive change.

We influence government directly through our work with departments, and through our support to the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC).

  • 98% of the bodies we audit say they would actively seek our feedback on accounting and financial control issues.
  • 94% of our recommendations have been or are being implemented.
  • 82% of PAC recommendations, arising from our work, are accepted by government.
  • 85% of our audited bodies agree that our work is of high quality.

“To put it bluntly, our Parliament is a better Parliament for the existence of the NAO. And this country is a better governed country for each and every one of you.” – Stephen Philips QC MP, Committee of Public Accounts

Where our work has made a difference

Helping to inform the care leavers’ policy programme

The Department for Education has responded positively to our Care Leavers’ transition to adulthood report, recognising that more needs to be done, including through local agencies, to drive improved outcomes for the 10,000 children who leave care every year.

Impact: The NAO report has helped to inform the policy programme overseen by the Department for Education, which includes refreshing the cross-government care leaver strategy and launching a new What Works Centre to share emerging evidence of effective practice. In addition, the Department has recently committed to a £200 million programme of innovation and intervention, with support for care leavers a particular focus. The Department is also collecting data on more care leavers, something the Minister for Children recognised as being partly because of our report, when giving evidence to the Education Select Committee.

Better oversight of Disabled Students’ Allowances

Our investigation in 2015 into the award of Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) helped promote reform in a sensitive area. Our report identified the need for better oversight of the DSA system.

Impact: The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has now introduced more rigorous controls. More broadly, the Department took account of the issues we highlighted in its reform of the arrangements for awarding DSA in the light of technological and other changes. Following a review in 2015, the government announced that, under new arrangements, limited public funding would be better targeted at the disabled students most in need, with universities taking an increasing role in supporting all disabled students, and has introduced stronger controls on the awards process.

Working with the Department for Work & Pensions to reduce fraud and error

We worked with the Department for Work & Pensions to assess their approach to reducing fraud and error, using an analytical framework based on market-leading practices in the private sector. This highlighted: the importance of understanding the causes of fraud and error; designing controls and interventions that focus on the main risk areas; exploiting data; and establishing clearer governance arrangements.

Impact: The Department has since developed fraud and error strategies using these principles. It is: designing interventions around a deeper understanding of the risks; prioritising largest areas of loss; increasing efforts to prevent fraud and error from happening in the first place; and exploiting new data sources, including HMRC’s real-time information on people’s earnings.