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Public Accounts Commission

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission was asked—

National Audit Office

7. Whether the Public Accounts Commission has discussed with the Comptroller and Auditor General the prospects for cost savings at the National Audit Office. (301671)

I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Public Accounts Commission, which took evidence on 20 October on the National Audit Office’s strategy for 2010-11 to 2012-13. The NAO proposed that its net resource requirement, which was £79.3 million in 2009-10, should remain at that figure for 2010-11, and the commission agreed. The NAO is also committed to cost reductions that will reduce corporate costs by 5 per cent. per year, while streamlined processes and better use of staff resources will reduce the cost of front-line audit and assurance work by 2 per cent.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. He will agree that that came out of an evidence session; no one sat down at a table and talked about cost reductions in general. Will he relay the fact that the House would like those gentlemen and ladies to sit down, talk and work out how they can save on costs? However, that should be done amicably and everyone should have an equal place at the table.

The NAO reports regularly to the commission on how it proposes to make savings, and we work on a ratio of £10 in Government spending saved for every £1 spent. So far it has been agreed that cost savings will be achieved by reducing expenditure on non-essential, back-office functions, using in-house resources rather than consultants wherever possible, and introducing a standard analytical framework for value-for-money work to use staff resources better. The NAO intends to ensure that quality is maintained through its internal and external quality control processes. We, at the commission, will be keeping a close eye on that.