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National Audit Office

Volume 563: debated on Thursday 16 May 2013

3. How many staff the National Audit Office employs; and what information the NAO collects on their previous employment. (155326)

The National Audit Office currently employs the equivalent of 870 full-time staff. It collects detailed information on an individual’s employment and education history when recruiting staff.

The National Audit Office undertakes a lot of good work investigating many public bodies. Does my hon. Friend think the make-up of his staff is sufficiently broad, from all sorts of different sectors in the private and public world, for them to do their job effectively?

Yes, I do. As an audit institution, the NAO’s core accounting skills are obviously provided through qualified accountants, many of whom join as trainees. The NAO currently employs about 330 qualified accountants and 200 trainees, graduate and school-leaver, from all sectors and all types of society. It also recruits staff from public and private sector backgrounds to provide operational expertise and disciplines, including economics, statistics, information and communications technology, banking and finance. In addition, it has an active inward and outward secondment programme to enhance its skills and experience base.

Will the hon. Gentleman send the House’s congratulations to NAO staff, who do such a good job, particularly in bursting the bubble on High Speed 2? They have shown what an absolute waste of public money it will be. It will cost approximately £50 billion, which could be spent regenerating our towns and cities.

Of course NAO staff have no views on the policy implications of HS2, but I know that they will ensure that it, like all public sector projects, is properly investigated to ensure that there is no waste or incompetence.