MAINTAINING THE ROYAL PALACES (PAC 2000-2001/09)
Memorandum submitted by the Comptroller
and Auditor General updating his Report HC 563 Session 1999-2000
The C&AG's report "Maintaining the
Royal Palaces" was published on 22 June 2000 and is, of course,
the subject of the Committee's hearing next Monday (18 December).
The C&AG thought that the Chairman might like to know that
the Department for Culture, Media and Sports have addressed the
three recommendations on page 4 of the report and have implemented
them as follows:
Recommendation 1The Department should ensure
that each year they have sufficient information to satisfy themselves
about the amount available from Windsor Castle precincts receipts
for property services.
The Department have asked the Royal Collection's
auditors to let them have certified statements to the calculation
of the sum due to accrue to the property services grant in aid
from the Windsor Castle precincts receipts for the years 1998-99
and 1999-2000 and to provide these to them in future years.
Recommendation 2Although the Royal Household
have now largely cleared the maintenance backlog they inherited,
the Department should seek explicit assurance from their independent
consultants that, in view of the reduced maintenance spend, necessary
maintenance work is not being overlooked.
The Department have discussed this recommendation
with the Royal Household and have now commissioned their consultants
to check that all significant recommendations in the quinquennial
surveys appear as projects in the Royal Household's plans and
are carried out. The first review will concentrate on the latest
quinquennial survey of Buckingham Palace.
Recommendation 3The Department and the
Royal Household should consider whether the suite of performance
indicators already published in the Royal Household's annual report
could usefully be complemented - in particular by covering performance
on the large number of small projects.
The Royal Household have introduced a new performance
indicator based on technical audits, undertaken by independent
external surveyors, of projects budgeted to cost between £2,500
and £25,000. The Department told the NOA that this indicator,
which assesses the overall performance on smaller projects, is
based on a detailed review of a sample of three per cent of invoices
paid. The target is to achieve 90 per cent of invoices with a
favourable overall result (e.g. the work was needed, good value
for money was achieved and administrative procedures were followed).
The Royal Household state that historical performance is as follows:
Audits carried out in:
1997-98 93 per cent favourable
1999-2000 91 per cent
2000-01 (first two quarters) - 94
Paragraph 4.9 of the Report makes reference
to post-project reviews. The Department have told the NAO that
the Royal Household have shared with them the results of 10 such
reviews and that another two are due to be completed in the next
Comptroller and Auditor General
13 December 2000