NAO names next chair

Former senior civil servant named to top role
Dame Fiona Reynolds was previously director general of the National Trust. Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/PA Images

Dame Fiona Reynolds, master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a former senior civil servant, will be the next chair of the National Audit Office, the watchdog has announced.

Reynolds,  who was appointed following an open competition by parliament, will take over from Lord Michael Bichard, who has chaired the NAO's board for six years, in January.

Before moving to Emmanuel College in 2012 she was director general of the National Trust for more than a decade.

Before that, she was director of the Women’s Unit in the Cabinet Office for two years. Her previus roles include director of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (now the Campaign to Protect Rural England) secretary to the Council for National Parks (now Campaign to Protect National Parks).

Reynolds is currently chair of the Green Alliance, the International National Trusts Organisation, the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden, as well as a trustee of the Grosvenor Estate and a non-executive director of Wessex Water.

She is also an honorary fellow of the British Academy.

Reynolds said: “I am very much looking forward to joining the NAO as chair. The NAO plays a vital role in driving public sector improvement and supporting parliament in responding to the challenges facing government.

“I hope to follow in the footsteps of Lord Michael Bichard by providing sound leadership to the board and helping to implement the NAO’s new strategy, helping the NAO to make a bigger difference by further improving support for effective accountability and scrutiny, increasing the impacts on outcomes and value for money and sharing knowledge more effectively.”

Bichard said Reynolds would be an "excellent successor".

“Dame Fiona’s experience makes her the ideal person to become the new NAO Chair. Chairing the NAO is a privilege and a chance to make a difference to the way our public services are delivered," he said.

She was chosen as the preferred candidate for the role by a selection panel that included the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the auditor general for Scotland and Treasury permanent secretary Tom Scholar.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said he was "delighted" at the appointment.

“I look forward to working with her to ensure that the NAO fulfils its crucial mission as the UK’s public spending watchdog in the coming years," he said.

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