Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, has published his report on the operation and wind up of Teesside Development Corporation. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report is in response to concerns raised with him by three Members of Parliament for the North East of England and a former contractor of the Corporation. During its 11 year life the Corporation, which was wound up in March 1998, achieved a great deal in regenerating an area that was suffering from long term industrial and economic decline.
Sir John highlights the points arising from this case that are relevant to departments’ oversight of sponsored bodies more generally. In particular he emphasises the importance of:
- boards of sponsored bodies having an appropriate range of skills and mix of personalities to provide sufficient checks and balances within the Board, and effective oversight of senior operational staff;
- board members being provided with an adequate understanding of their responsibilities, and in particular, the financial management and reporting requirements of public sector bodies; and
- departments focusing their oversight on those bodies which pose the greatest risk, based on a periodic risk assessment of bodies under their sponsorship.