NAO publishes it first report into UK Government COVID-19 response

The National Audit Office (NAO) published yesterday its first report into the Government's response to the COVID-19 crisis. This report does not really focus in procurement, but has a couple of interesting points for us to follow in the near future.

First, the NAO has already established that in 11 occasions the Government ministers have resorted to ministerial directions regarding spending proposals. These are formal instructions from ministers overruling the reservations expressed by the relevant permanent secretary of the department. The reservations may be related to the propriety of expenditure, value for money, feasibility or regularity.

I have the feeling the most important ones will be connected with the first two categories and once the mother of all inquiries kicks in we will finally know who has been jumping through procurement rules as if they didn't exist or matter. Unfortunately, that will come way too down the line to avoid mistakes that have been (or are being made) in response to the crisis.

Closer to the end of this first report the NAO points out what are going to be its reporting priorities going forward. Two of these are going to be procurement/supply chains and fraud/error. Bearing in mind what we already (publicly) know, these have the potential to be barnstormers.