Dome faces finance probe.

A major investigation of the Millennium Dome and the recent multimillion pound grants to help keep it afloat is to be launched by the government’s spending watchdog the National Audit Office.

The NAO, which has so far had only an indirect relationship with the Dome and its operating company, the New Millennium Experience Company, has decided to conduct a detailed financial inquiry into the operation of the dome, last week’s #29m grant and an earlier one of #60m.

The Value for Money report will be presented to parliament, via the Commons Public Accounts Committee, after the summer recess.

The examination has been prompted by concerns expressed by members of the Millennium Commission, the body which gave the two grants.

A spokesman at the NAO told Accountancy Age: ‘As more information has come to light that officials at the Commission did have concerns about whether the #29m did reflect good value for money, we have decided we were going to produce a report for parliament.

‘We are going to look at the operation of the Dome this year and we will also be looking at the grants of #60m and #29m.’

Up to now the NAO has resisted launching a full value-for-money inquiry into the Dome and the NMEC but the loan this week, and the concerns expressed publicly, have forced the watchdog’s hand.

Its decision will come as another blow to the government which has supported the Dome and operations. The New Millennium Experience Company has pledged co-operation with NAO auditors.

A spokesman for the department of culture said: ‘Considering the size and significance of the project this certainly is not a surprise, nor do we have a problem with it happening.’

Dome FD interview,

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