PAC backs nomination of Gareth Davies to head National Audit Office

MPs’ report backing the appointment provides an insight into recruitment process for senior government oversight role

Photo: NAO

By Richard Johnstone

23 Jan 2019

The Public Accounts Committee has approved the appointment of Gareth Davies as the next auditor general and head of the National Audit Office after a confirmation hearing held last week.

Their decision means that Davies will now face a vote of approval by MPs in the House of Commons. If he passes this, he will be confirmed as the successor to Sir Amyas Morse, whose ten-year term comes to an end on 31 May.

Davis is currently head of public services at international accountancy firm Mazars and a former head of audit practice at the Audit Commission.


Following a hearing where MPs quizzed Davies about his experience and suitability for the post, the committee said yesterday that it “was satisfied that Davies has suitable audit and professional experience and demonstrates the necessary independence and resilience to make a success of the role”.

The report also set out details of the appointment process for the role.

This is the first appointment of an auditor general under the terms of Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, which mandates the process for the appointment of a new AG.

The post was advertised in national newspapers and online, and recruitment consultants were appointed to assist with the search. The panel leading the process – headed by PAC chair Meg Hillier and including Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar, NAO chair Lord Bichard, and National Grid chair and former chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce Sir Peter Gershon – agreed the job and person specifications in consultation with the NAO. These included a requirement that applicants have a professional financial qualification.

After longlisting applicants, the candidates went through a technical audit assessment with Caroline Gardner, Scotland’s auditor general. Feedback from these assessments was used to shortlist candidates, who then took part in interviews and a facilitated discussion with a panel of NAO staff, as well as psychometric testing. 

After the panel decision to appoint Davis, Hillier wrote to the prime minister with the recommendation. Given her role in the appointment process, Hillier recused herself from the PAC pre-appointment hearing, with deputy chair Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown instead chairing the session.

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