The government has rejected, for now, demands from the Commons Treasury committee to appoint the National Audit Office as the auditor of public-service agreements. Under government plans, the agreements will state the aims and objectives of the various parts of government, together with a statement of the resources available and performance targets. They are emerging as part of the government's shift to resource accounting and budgeting, overseen by Andrew Likierman, head of the Government Accountancy Service. In July the committee called for the figures produced as indicators of progress against targets to be externally validated to ensure credibility. It said that in general the NAO would be the best body to do this. In its response this week, the government said it was too early to appoint the NAO. 'At such an early stage in the new process ... a formal role for an external auditing body would be very resource intensive with doubtful benefits either for transparency or the robustness of departments' data,' the response explained.
Some parts of Atacama have not received rainfall for 500 years - but a sudden deluge of water upset the Desert's delicate biological balance
Spitzer Space Telescope could not spot Oumuamua, suggesting that it is actually pretty small
Greenland crater one of the 25 largest impact craters on Earth
This long-sought progenitor star was identified in an image captured by Hubble in 2007