Headlines: October 4th, 2002

The National Audit Office has saved taxpayers 1.5 billion pounds over the last three years, according to its annual report which is published today.Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said the past year had been marked by increasing demand for its services from Government, Parliament and international organisations and by significant savings for the taxpayer.

The report points to the opening up of major new areas of work for the NAO including taking over the audits of 30 public bodies previously carried  out by the private sector and the validation of the data systems that underpin Public Service Agreements.

The report says the NAO is often able to make comparisons with the way things are done in the private sector or overseas and to use management science and other techniques to explore ways of solving problems. As an example, it says the implementation of its recommendations on Private Finance Initiatives had generated £162 million in savings. Work with the Public Accounts Committee also led to the Ministry of Defence bringing in   an asset tracking system which enabled it to recover an extra £57 million  for its peace-keeping work in Bosnia.

Presenting the report, Sir John says, ” The current period can certainly be characterised as one of growth for the NAO and the fact that we are in such demand must reflect well on the work that we do and the savings for the taxpayer that our work and that of the Public Accounts Committee generates. Taken together the changes will mean we can make an even greater contribution to parliamentary accountability while at the same time ensuing we provide an excellent service to those we audit.”

The NAO says it has continued to work to encourage the take up of its recommendations and has, for example, hosted good practice conference on construction procurement and obesity, and published guidance to help health service professionals cut the number of cases of patients becoming infected while in hospital.