Posts tagged: "Good practice principles"
Posted on May 20, 2021 by Chris Coyne
Good reporting in the public sector should allow the public and Parliament to understand to easily understand an organisation’s strategy and the risks it faces, how much taxpayers’ money has been spent and on what, and what has been achieved as a result. Following the challenges of the last year, most notably COVID-19, clear and transparent reporting is hugely important.
Transparency and accountability in central to strong financial and risk management in government, and how this is supported by clear and understandable reporting. With that in mind, we’re delighted to share a recent National Audit Office report which cuts to the heart of this: the Good Practice in Annual Reporting Guide. Our guide sets out good-practice principles around a number of key areas to help public sector organisations to compile their Annual Reports. Those principles are:
Building on these principles, our guide provides some excellent examples from public sector organisations that we think are leading the way. Below we have picked out a few key takeaways for organisations to consider as part of their preparations for 2020-21 Annual Reports.
Risk and Governance: There should be an increased focus on the risks and challenges of recent events and how these are managed, including:
- Frank and honest analysis of how COVID-19 (and other risks) have impacted operations and how the taxpayer’s money has been spent and managed.
- Clear depiction of the governance and risk management framework to demonstrate an organisation’s processes to identify, monitor and mitigate risk.
- Transparent reporting of complex technical judgements and decisions. We anticipate, given the challenges brought about by the pandemic, spending reviews and EU Exit, that organisations may enter complex transactions or arrangements. These transactions should be disclosed transparently and in a way that is understandable to the users.
Strategy and Operations: There should be a clear articulation of purpose and objectives, and how an organisation’s operations support their objectives. In particular:
- Clarity around an organisation’s purpose, strategic objectives and values and how these feed into the performance of the organisation and any related risks, with reference to its external environment.
- Celebration of Diversity and Inclusion within annual reports. Employee costs make up most of the central government expenditure and people are undoubtedly an organisation’s most precious asset. Organisations should consider what their employee data says about them and whether reporting could be improved in this area.
Measures of Success and Financial Performance: There should be a balanced assessment of goals achieved and performance against targets, and financial performance should be understandable and consistent with the underlying financial statements. For instance:
- Better trend reporting. Trend analysis over time is a strong indicator of performance and achievements and a good way for the reader to hold organisations to account. Organisations should consider what trend data is being published and what story they are trying to tell.
- Better, more accessible information on non-financial metrics affecting organisations, such as sustainability reporting. Organisations should seek to portray non-financial data in simple terms to help tell a story and show clearly how it is linked to their operations.
Lastly, the NAO co-sponsor the annual Building Public Trust Awards, Public Sector reporting category with PwC, to give credit to organisations who are demonstrating excellence in government financial reporting. If you believe your organisation’s 2020-21 annual report and accounts is an example of excellent reporting, you can nominate it for the Building Public Trust Awards – Public Sector Reporting Award by emailing Building.Public.Trust@nao.org.uk by 30 June 2021.
Authors: Chris Coyne, Rachel Nugent, Catriona Sheil and Courtnay Ip Tat Kuen.
Chris manages our work on financial and risk management. He has been with the NAO since he joined as a graduate trainee in 2008, and has significant experience managing financial audits across a variety of government organisations.
This article was first published on OneFinance (login required)
Tagged: Good practice principles
Posted on July 16, 2019 by Yvonne Gallagher
Have you ever had the frustration of having to provide the same information about yourself to different government services? Have you ever had to make decisions without information about what does and doesn’t work? Data is fundamental to delivering public services, improving systems and processes, and supporting sound decisions – but accessing accurate data is far from easy. Drawing from our recent report, Challenges in using data across government, I highlight here some of the difficulties, their implications and ways they can be addressed.more… Right data, right place, right time
Tagged: Behaviour change, Business operations, Cross-government, Customer service, Digital transformation, Forecasting, Fraud and error, Good practice principles, Information management, Information sharing, Innovation, IT, Performance measurement, Public sector reform, Regulation & consumer protection, Risk management
Posted on July 4, 2019 by Sandy Gordon
Since we first published our Framework to review programmes in 2017 there has been no let-up in NAO reports on major projects and programmes, most recently on Crossrail, the Emergency Services Network and the Stonehenge by-pass road. From the need to manage the risks of untried approaches to signs warning of unrealistic cost estimates, this blog highlights some of the themes emerging from our recent work on major programmes, which have been incorporated into our updated guidance.more… Major programmes – what are we learning?
Tagged: Civil service capability, Contract management, Forecasting, Good practice principles, Infrastructure, Investigations, Major projects, Performance management, Project management, Public sector reform, Risk management
Posted on June 27, 2019 by Yvonne Gallagher
‘Cloud services’ can bring cost and performance benefits. But they can also bring new challenges and risks. To help leaders oversee decision-making and implementation of cloud services, we recently published ‘Guidance for audit committees on cloud services’. The magazine, Public Sector Executive, invited us to outline the issues in the article The National Audit Office’s guide to cloud services and has kindly allowed us to reproduce it on this Blog.more… Cloud services: asking the right questions
Tagged: Audit Committees and Boards, Business operations, Cross-government, Cyber security, Digital transformation, Good practice principles, Information management, Innovation, Public sector reform, Risk management, Skills
Posted on May 22, 2019 by Emma Willson
Billions of pounds of cost increase due to contractual change, delays introducing communication networks for our emergency services, potential strains on Army personnel – our recent reports illustrate the huge importance of getting contracts right, and what organisations need to do if they go wrong. They also reinforce the principles discussed in previous posts in our Contract insights series: the great value of information and the crucial need to act intelligently, get risk allocation right and take sufficient time to plan upfront for all scenarios. more… Getting contracts right and responding if they go wrong
Posted on October 1, 2018 by Iain Forrester
From the collapse of Carillion, to failures within Capita’s £1 billion worth of public contracts, recent NAO reports starkly reiterate the importance of information in managing contracts. As the Comptroller & Auditor General said in his post Risks, resources and government-supplier relationships, government ‘needs to assess the financial health and sustainability of its major contractors and use this information to protect the public interest’. Here we outline the crucial role of information throughout the commercial lifecycle. more… The power of information for contracts
Posted on June 29, 2018 by Max Tse
Evolution or revolution? Inventing new services or transforming old systems and processes? Transformation programmes are complex, ever-changing and face numerous barriers; so what does it take to be one of the minority of transformation projects that succeed? How can organisations’ Boards improve the chance of success? And what does transformation have to do with wagon trains? more… Successful transformation: voices of experience
Tagged: Audit Committees and Boards, Behaviour change, Cross-government, Customer service, Digital transformation, Employee engagement, Good practice principles, Impacts, Information management, Major projects, Public sector reform, Risk management, Skills
Posted on March 29, 2018 by Kate Mathers
How do you make complex departmental annual reports easily understandable? Do you clearly outline your goals and achievement of them? Is it easy for the public to understand your organisational risks and their management? Being clear, concise, honest and open in annual reports is a real skill. To inspire creativity and usability, our yearly guide to good practice in annual reports this year presents examples from both the public sector organisations we reviewed in the Building Public Trust Awards, and some of the private and third sector examples highlighted in other categories. more… Being honest: award-winning annual reports
Posted on February 16, 2018 by Sian Jones
Life-saving drugs, step-changes in energy efficiency, robots and amazing new materials that can transform our lives – these, and many scientific advances, are all the result of research and development (R&D). The UK funds £31.6 billion of R&D a year, and its success depends frequently on collaboration between a wide range of government departments, and with research councils, university bodies, businesses, charities and international organisations. As we look at the fascinating world of R&D, we can also learn much for all types of cross-government collaboration and coordination. more… Cross-government collaboration: lessons from R&D
Tagged: Accountability, Brexit, Climate change, Cross-government, Digital transformation, Environmental sustainability, Good practice principles, Growth, Impacts, Information management, International, Leadership, Overseas aid, Process management, Project management, Research & development, Third sector, Universities
Posted on November 23, 2017 by Emma Willson
Establishing solid foundations early in the contract and commercial relationship lifecycle is critical for contracts to work. But this process starts long before contracts are signed. Two recent NAO reports provide insights into the importance of getting both the procurement strategy and process right. Experience has shown that not doing so can result in millions of pounds in legal costs – £100 million in one recent case – or an uncompetitive contract leading to additional costs. This latest blog in our commercial and contract management series shares our recent insights across the market management and sourcing domain of our contracts lifecycle. more… Contract management – challenges and consequences