The National Audit Office said that the Government should have a clear plan for buying in a ‘seller’s market’ where it needs to deal with suppliers it does not normally use
The National Audit Office (NAO) has suggested that the Government should hire counter-fraud experts across departments.
These experts could quickly respond in another Covid-style emergency and establish a clear method for dealing with new suppliers. The NAO said that a “flexible” system could prevent dishonest individuals from exploiting the Government.
The amount of fraud reported in the accounts audited by the NAO increased from £5.5 billion to £21 billion in the two years following the pandemic’s start. NAO head Gareth Davies said: “There is evidence of the Government learning lessons from recent emergencies and improving its approach to better prepare for future emergency spending.
He added: “The NAO has set out lessons where action can be taken now by Government to prepare for future emergency spending.” This includes clearer rules and decision-making, improved staff and data management, and greater transparency. If Government makes these changes now, it will be better placed to protect public spending, and public confidence and trust in it, the next time we face an emergency.” he concluded.
The National Audit Office (NAO) has outlined various lessons for the Government to learn from the pandemic, to ensure money is well-spent in future emergencies. This includes having plans for buying in “a seller’s market,” where the Government quickly needs products it doesn’t usually buy, or deals with unfamiliar suppliers.
“In emergencies, Government will have reduced leverage and may have to deal with many suppliers they are not used to dealing with,” the NAO stated. They added that a clear strategy is needed for such situations. The NAO also recommended that while public bodies might need to streamline their operations during emergencies, they still need to “allow for robust oversight” and adhere to normal rules about public spending.