What is it all about – the strategic report
The strategic report has to be the best summary of what the NAO is about for anyone who is thinking of working here. From the high level mission of the NAO – helping the nation spend wisely – to how much money we spent in each area, there is a treasure trove of useful facts here for anyone who wants to know what the NAO does and how it does it.
Did you know, for example, that the NAO’s work led to savings of £1.1bn last year; that is £16 for every £1 spent?
What do we do?
In this section you can find out all about the different strands of work which you could get involved in if you join the NAO. Clearly Financial Audit is a big part of that. The NAO audits nearly all central government organisations. Last year that was 355 organisations, 427 accounts, £1 trillion worth of revenue and expenditure.
As well as financial audit there are also the Value for Money audits – possibly what the NAO is best known for because they tend to be quoted by the media. But we now also do smaller investigations, sometimes as a result of information received from whistleblowers. The NAO also carries out a range of international work as well as advising Parliament through a variety of different reports.
This section is brought to life by case studies which show how the NAO has helped organisations improve their systems and save money. For example in Defence, the NAO identified £88m worth of kit which was not shown in the Ministry of Defence’s books. As a result the Ministry of Defence has improved its inventory management systems.
How did we do?
The NAO judges its performance against a set of measures such as saving public money, using money effectively and being recognised as an authority by its stakeholders. The report gives details and case studies to illustrate how these measures have been achieved in 2013/14.
One striking example: since the NAO’s 2010 report into major trauma care, the odds that a patient who has suffered severe trauma will die have decreased by 20%. That has to be seen as a positive change!
The people strategy
The bit which caught my eye here is where it says two thirds of the NAO’s people are aged under 40, reflecting its position as a training organisation. Speaking as a trainee who has far exceeded that threshold, I can personally vouch that age is no barrier to career development at the NAO.
It’s encouraging too to read of the awards won by Shelina Alagh, one of my intake, for coming top in the ICAEW Financial Management exam last year (hurray for Shelina!). In fact pass rates for the NAO are consistently at or above the national average, which reflects the way training is supported by the NAO, not to mention the quality of the trainees.
The annual report also contains all the stuff one might normally expect: not least the financial statements (not audited by us, of course!). All in all it gives a good insight into the NAO as an organisation and as an employer.