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    Great ideas for annual reports

  • Posted on March 11, 2016 by

    Annual reportsThe end is nigh – of the financial year, that is. So it’s the perfect time to inspire you by sharing some great examples of public sector corporate reports. Building Public Trust Awards: Examples of good practice in annual reports, 2015, profiles a wide range of examples from last year’s reports, across categories such as: strategy, measures of success, operations and people factors.

    BIS key achievementsThe Building Public Trust Awards, which are sponsored by PwC, have been running for 13 years. The overall winner in 2015 was Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Its report was well regarded in several respects, including this summary of key achievements. The Crown Estate was the public sector winner of the sustainability reporting award and you can view its sustainability report on pages 50-55 of the Crown Estate’s Annual Report (opens as a pdf).

    From use of engaging infographics and ‘highlights’ pages, to plain English explanations, the 40 or so examples in our interactive document show how organisations have been transparent and clear about their performance and plans, ensuring that their reports and accounts are relevant to both Parliament and the public.

    In illustrating good reporting examples, this document sets out what we looked for in each category when judging. Some examples include:

    • the link between risks, strategic objectives and annual report narratives;
    • the reasons for the choice of operational delivery model and how value for money had been achieved;
    • a balanced assessment of goals achieved and performance against target and key performance indicators (as illustrated below); and
    • discussion of the external drivers that influence and impact on current objectives and performance.

    NSandI annual report

    As one of the judges, I can attest to a genuine step-change improvement in the quality of reporting compared with previous years. Of course, quality still varies. Risk reporting and the linkage of Key Performance Indicators to organisations’ overall objectives are areas with the greatest scope for improvement. As well as the ideas and judging criteria set out in this document, let me remind you of our new Self-assessment resources web-page, on which you’ll find a range of resources to help the good planning and evaluation that informs corporate reporting.

    I illustrate here just a couple of the examples in our document – and strongly encourage you to explore all the examples in it.

    PHE annual report

    BIS annual report on governance
    I hope you find this document useful and welcome your comments.

    Kate Mathers

    About the author: Kate Mathers is the Director responsible for the NAO’s Financial Audit Practice and Quality team, which leads for the NAO on audit quality, policy and methodology, financial reporting technical matters and professional learning and development. She was also one of the judges for the Building Public Trust Awards. Kate is a Chartered Accountant with over 15 years’ experience auditing a wide range of central government sectors. She has also worked on secondment in senior finance and operations roles.


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  • 4 Comments

    4 responses to “Great ideas for annual reports”

    1. Definitely a move in the right direction. Too many reports – both engagement and annual – drown the most important messages in unnecessary detail. Corporate buzzwords, jargon and waffle then finish the poor reader off. Thank you, Kate, for showing what good can look like!

      • Kate Mathers says:

        I’m glad that you’ve found this blog-post and document useful, Sara. We will certainly keep encouraging open, clear and engaging reporting by the public sector. Kate

    2. Girija Ramgoolam says:

      Thank you for the feedback around the Annual Report. I found the top-level structure and pointers ‘what we were looking for’ very informative. The examples helped to focus on the concept and how this thinking can be applied in other reports.

      • Kate Mathers says:

        Many thanks for your feedback, Girija. It’s really good and encouraging to hear that you’ve found our guide informative. Kate

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