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NAO to increase scrutiny of public spending

The National Audit Office is to turn the spotlight on the effectiveness of chancellor Gordon Brown's decision to boost public spending and step up the involvement of the private sector, to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money.

Link: Public finances sink further into the red

Plans to increase the number of NAO reports to match the pace of change in public service delivery are being considered by the Commons Public Accounts Commission and comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn.

The move was revealed in the first series of Commission minutes to be published since Lord Sharman recommended the Commission become ‘more open and transparent’ about how it holds the NAO to account.

It follows Treasury agreement to the Sharman report proposing theNAO should follow public funds wherever spent and take over the task of auditing quangos – Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisations.

Bourn told the committee the pace of change in service delivery meant there was ‘now scope to increase the number of reports which are published each year to assess how these changes in the delivery of public services and ongoing increases in public expenditure are delivering value for money’.

He proposed a number of short reports to inform the PAC how much progress had been made implementing past PAC findings and more reports on non-departmental public bodies – such as the Housing Corporation and the Environment Agency.

MPs agreed a 6% increase in the NAO’s budget to £51.6m for 2002/3. It is expected to grow at the same rate to 2005/6.

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