National Audit Office

Public Accounts Commission written question – answered at on 3 September 2012.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

To ask the Chairman of the Public Accounts Commission whether the National Audit Office examines, logs and analyses the use of management consultants by Government Departments, including the advice given, whether it is followed and whether it is good value for money.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Chair, Public Accounts Commission, Chair, Public Accounts Commission

The National Audit Office (NAO) does not routinely log information on Government's use of consultants but periodically reports on how Government is using consultants within value for money reports on specific Government programmes and in cross-Government reports.

The NAO published its most recent cross-Government report, ‘Central Government's use of consultants and interims’, in October 2010 making a number of recommendations to improve value for money. The recommendations included collecting and making better use of information on the type of consultancy services being bought, the benefits being delivered and the performance of suppliers. The NAO also recommended using consultants only when there were no suitable existing staff in Departments, and contracting with consultants, and assessing their performance, against specified outcomes rather than the time spent on a project. The NAO's recommendations influenced the Cabinet Office's approach to achieving better value for money from consultants. Spending on consultants across all Departments reduced by £645 million in 2010-11. The Cabinet Office agreed that the NAO's influence was accountable for half of the savings, equivalent to £322.5 million.

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