The report analysed five centres - at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Research Councils UK; the Department for Transport; the Ministry of Justice; and the Department for Work and Pensions - finding that the centres were expected to cost £0.9bn but in the end cost over £1.4bn.
Despite the cost, the planned benefits have not been realised, according to the report. The centres were intended to save £159m by the end of 2010, but the two centres that are still tracking their benefits have reported a net cost of £255m.
The Cabinet Office failed to challenge the centres' performance of the centres and establish reliable benchmarks, the report says. NAO chief Amyas Morse said that "the new Cabinet Office strategy on shared services acknowledges these issues but... it must learn the lessons from past implementation."