Privatisation of Qinetiq audit office missing report

Privatisation of qinetiq - audit office missing report
Radio silence from the NAOThe National Audit Office has not been short of publicity with revelations that MPs have ordered a review of how it is run after it emerged that the man in charge of the public spending watchdog had spent almost £350,000 on foreign trips in just three years. The Public Accounts Committee said last week its inquiry would focus particularly on the role of Sir John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Among other things, the study will look at whether the NAO should be overseen by a separate advisory board staffed with new non-executives. Now it seems that the PAC is also taking an interest in a piece of unfinished business: the NAO's report into the privatisation of Qinetiq, the Government's defence research group.Launched in January 2006, there are still no signs of the report despite drafts having been in circulation since March. It was initially expected to be published by the end of last year and more recently this summer. So far, there has been nothing but radio silence. Now it appears that the NAO is coming under pressure from the PAC to release its report. Two civil servants have been summoned to appear in front of the PAC in December.

The inquiry is looking at whether the Government short-changed taxpayers over Qinetiq. Its privatisation was controversial from the start, ever since the Government first sold a stake in the business to Carlyle, the US private equity group. A draft of the NAO's report, details of which were obtained by this paper in March, criticised the Ministry of Defence, accusing it of allowing the management to reap "excessive" rewards.It was all strong stuff, which is why it makes it easy to suspect that ministers are trying to have some of the more juicy parts taken out. The longer this saga continues, the more likely it is that when taxpayers finally get to read the report it will make far less interesting reading than the draft.

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