Environmental Auditing

Sharman also referred to the strong interest of the Environment Select Committee in having the C&AG carry out a programme of environmental audits, with the reports being considered by that Committee rather than by the PAC. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s there had been a deliberate movement into NAO examination of environmental issues. Fifteen reports were produced, supported by discussion papers and other material linked with participation in outside 'green' conferences.16 However, environmental auditing was then less actively pursued. Sharman noted that the suggestion that subsequent environmental audit reports might be pursued by the Environmental Select Committee rather than the PAC represented a potential clash of interest between the two Select Committees. Coincidentally, a more flexible attitude was emerging that would in time lead to closer and more regular NAO relationships with Select Committees other than the PAC. The appointment of a new PAC Chairman in 2001 led to a more relaxed view on the respective

The GAO had recognized a similar gap in its own work and had begun a programme of examinations under the heading of 'General Management Reviews'. Such work was pursued separately from, but supplemented, the GAO's ongoing program reviews. Assessing the benefits of this work, Charles Bowsher, head of the GAO stated that:

The General Management Reviews are challenging the GAO to think more broadly about the systemic barriers to government management improvement. The more narrow program reviews were not conducive to assessing agency general management and generally did not stimulate efforts within the GAO to look for cross-cutting management issues and common lessons learned. (Bowsher, 1991, p. 368)

16 See Dewar, 1991.

boundary lines, a change that was actively supported by both the Public Accounts Commission and the House Liaison Committee. Greater flexibility later resulted in the introduction of arrangements for the NAO to provide expert advice to the Environmental Audit Select Committee as part of an extensive programme of work on their behalf, including seconding staff and preparing research and briefing papers. Similar advice and assistance was subsequently provided to the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change. In the period 2003-14 the NAO produced eighty-two environmental audit reports, including related briefings, compared with twenty-eight reports in the period 1993-2002.[1]

  • [1] Details of environmental audits worldwide, analysed by country, are collected and publishedby the INTOSAI Working Group on Environmental Auditing, of which the UK is a member.
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