Chair's Annual Report

Meg's analysis of the issues to watch across Whitehall from her perspective as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

Chair’s foreword


This Parliamentary Session:


  • The Committee has held 66 inquiries


  • Published 49 reports


  • Government agreed with 171 of 187 recommendations


Welcome to my annual report.


A number of themes in this report are depressingly familiar. We repeatedly see the same issues and mistakes repeated – particularly around contracts, procurement, how information is used and a disconnect from the real impact of Whitehall decisions and behaviour on the lives of the citizen.


Government is complex and often has to react quickly to events. But too often we see short term priorities and not enough long-term thinking about the risks and consequences of decisions.


The committee has been examining the strategic supplier paperwork on behalf of Parliament. There is a danger that the small number of major suppliers (defined as having over £100m contracts with central Government) are effectively becoming secretive sub departments of Government. We are pushing for more transparency.


Departments too often tell us that the work of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee is all old news and the situation is better now. For the avoidance of doubt all National Audit Office reports are agreed with the Government department concerned and just over 90% per cent of the Public Accounts Committee recommendations are agreed by Government. We continue to push back on Treasury Minute responses and call in departments to explain themselves.


The General Election saw a number of new members join the committee which is made up of 16 MPs from four political parties. Richard Bacon MP, who had served as a member for 16 years and as Deputy Chair for the last two years, chose to leave the committee. His experience and knowledge will be greatly missed. In the world of social media and quick headlines long service on our select committees is often undervalued. Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown joined the committee and was appointed Deputy Chair and I thank him for his support.


There is a lot of rhetoric about politics being broken but every single Public Accounts Committee report has been agreed cross party. We have never produced a minority report. This is because we work hard to examine the evidence and I thank the National Audit Office for their support. My particular thanks go to my committee colleagues for all their hard work. Our work is very much a team effort.



Meg Hillier MP

Chair, Public Accounts Committee