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Helping the public sector respond to a challenging and changing environment

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Helping the public sector respond to a challenging and changing environment …

Helping the public sector respond to a challenging and changing environment

Sian Jones | Audit Manager | Civil Service Live July 2013

Published in: Technology, Economy & Finance
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  • Audited bodies include:Departments - e.g. Health, DefenceAgencies - e.g. Highways AgencyNDPBs - e.g. Environment Agency, Competition CommissionCharities – e.g. British Council, V&ACompanies – e.g. School Food Trust
  • The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC)Select Committee of the House of CommonsChaired by an Opposition MPEvidence session based on C&AG’s reportQuestions put to Accounting OfficerReports and makes recommendationsSessions last 1-2 hoursInvestigative styleDesigned to be formidableGovernment must respond to PAC reportTreasury Minute
  • Source: NAO Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13Example of our impact: Investigating concerns on contracting out the provision of language services for use in courts by the justice system In response to concerns raised by Members of Parliament, interpreters and the public, we investigated the Ministry of Justice’s contracting out of language services to Applied Language Solutions. Our work brought these issues to Parliament’s and the public’s attention and raised important learning points for the Ministry’s procurement and contract management processes. The Committee of Public Accounts held two hearings to question those involved, and the Ministry accepted all the recommendations in the Committee of Public Accounts’ subsequent report.
  • Financial Regulatory bodies: In 2012-13, we prepared for the audit from April 2013 of the bodies in the new financial regulatory framework, including the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Money Advice Service, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. Local government: During 2012-13, we increasingly focused on the issues facing local government and other local public services. We implemented the first phase of our work with the local government sector to build links and understanding between local public services and the NAO. We are also working with government and other stakeholders to prepare to take on new responsibilities for overseeing the Code of Audit Practice for auditors of local authorities when the Local Audit Bill completes its passage through Parliament. We also set up a local government reference panel to help us plan our value-for-money work in this sector. We published reports on the financial sustainability of local authorities, community budgets, new homes bonus and central government’s communication and engagement with local government. Probation trusts: In 2012-13, the C&AG became responsible for auditing 34 English probation trusts. We worked with trusts and sector organisations to develop the framework for our audit. We identified innovative approaches to streamline the audit process, making a ten per cent reduction in audit fees to trusts this year, compared with previous arrangements. The sector welcomed our approach, which has helped to build our credibility as an auditor for local public service bodies. Foundation trusts: TPAC gave us additional funding to investigate VFM issues in this sector following on from our report on Foundation Trusts: financial sustainability.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Helping the nation spend wisely | 1 Helping the public sector respond to a challenging and changing environment Sian Jones | Audit Manager | July 2013
    • 2. Helping the nation spend wisely | 2 Overview
    • 3. Helping the nation spend wisely | 3 Our role The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending for Parliament We help to hold government departments and the bodies we audit to account for how they use public money Our work helps public service managers to improve performance and service delivery, nationally and locally
    • 4. Helping the nation spend wisely | 4 * Committee of Public Accounts The accountability process
    • 5. Helping the nation spend wisely | 5 There are five dimensions to our work * International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions
    • 6. Helping the nation spend wisely | 6 Our work is produced for • The Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) • Other select committees, including the Public Administration Select Committee, Environment, Health, Transport, etc. • All MPs and peers • Senior officials in government departments • Members of the public and groups interested in aspects of our work
    • 7. Helping the nation spend wisely | 7 Key corporate data
    • 8. Helping the nation spend wisely | 8 Our work How we have added value
    • 9. Helping the nation spend wisely | 9 By highlighting the scale of the financial challenge Source: NAO analysis of HM Treasury data
    • 10. Helping the nation spend wisely | 10 By outlining improvements needed at the centre to support departments in financial management We recommended that Treasury: • strengthen the evidence base for key processes such as spending reviews, to better inform how resources are allocated and prioritised across government • consider the medium- and long-term effects of its resource allocation processes, to avoid incremental decision-making • identify opportunities where early action or service integration can improve value for money • actively promote a collaborative approach to financial management, for example by encouraging joint funding bids; and • work to align financial accounting and reporting with initiatives to develop and improve management information (Quarterly Data Summaries).
    • 11. Helping the nation spend wisely | 11 By looking at projects earlier in the cycle to maximise potential for achieving value for money Our work on HS2 outlined issues with, amongst other factors, the timescales for the project:
    • 12. Helping the nation spend wisely | 12 By recommending a number of actions to the Department for Transport Programme management • The Department should ensure that it has sufficient time to develop the programme, including to respond to unexpected issues, and that its work is structured around the key objectives it is trying to achieve. • It should develop a realistic timetable for the hybrid bill, which includes allowances for unforeseen or uncontrollable delays and builds in sufficient time for proper scrutiny and quality assurance. • It should structure the programme’s key processes and documents so they focus on meeting the programme’s objectives, including achieving regional economic growth. • The Department should set a timescale for management to respond to issues raised in assurance reports on the programme and monitor how recommendations are implemented.
    • 13. Helping the nation spend wisely | 13 By building up our expertise in local delivery
    • 14. Helping the nation spend wisely | 14 By spelling out the challenges at local level
    • 15. Helping the nation spend wisely | 15 By making an appropriate contribution to future local public audit arrangements • Providing expert advice/input to assist Government’s thinking around its proposed new arrangements for local public audit (e.g. participation in DCLG Implementation Steering Group and associated work streams) • Taking on new responsibilities within the proposed audit framework consistent with the NAO’s core role (Code of Audit Practice) • Leading transition work on the Code of Audit Practice to help ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities • Engaging with the sector to develop VFM studies that add value at the local level (e.g. creating the Local Government Reference Panel – to discuss future work and consider progress on studies underway)
    • 16. Helping the nation spend wisely | 16 By providing practical guides and support We have published fact sheets and good practice to support departments on: • Audit Committees • Internal audit • Governance statements
    • 17. Helping the nation spend wisely | 17 Initiating successful projects Managing risks in government By including example models and principles
    • 18. Helping the nation spend wisely | 18 Looking to the future
    • 19. Helping the nation spend wisely | 19 Enhancing our approach
    • 20. Helping the nation spend wisely | 20 Taking on new responsibilities • Auditing organisations in the reformed financial regulatory system, such as the Financial Conduct Authority • Auditing probation trusts across England • Developing local government work, including preparations to take on new responsibilities for overseeing the Code of Audit Practice • Extending our VFM work into specific devolved Health providers, notably Foundation Trusts
    • 21. Helping the nation spend wisely | 21 • We carry out investigations into areas of concern raised with us by MPs or members of the public. • In 2012-13 this work included: • contracting out language services in the justice system; • the progress of the Work Programme; and • preventing fraud in contracted employment programmes. • In 2013-14 we will be looking at, amongst other things: • Gagging clauses • Whistleblowing polices and practice across government • Contractors Building on our investigations work
    • 22. Helping the nation spend wisely | 22 Maintaining our local presence • Newcastle office with around 90 staff, comprising approximately 10% of our office • Has Health, HMRC, DWP and Defra as its clients • Good links with local stakeholders
    • 23. Helping the nation spend wisely | 23 How to find out more • Visit our stand • Get in touch with our Newcastle office on 0191 269 1820 • NAO website www.nao.org.uk • Follow the NAO on Twitter @NAOorguk • Sign up for email alerts with NAOdirect • NAO videos on YouTube • NAO Annual Report & Accounts 2012-13 • Public Accounts Commission

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