Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 covering the period 2008-2011

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Review of the data systems for Public Service Agreement 15 led by the Government Equalities Office: ‘Address the disadvantage that individuals experience because of their gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.’

Introduction

PSAs are at the centre of the Government’s performance measurement system. They are usually three year agreements, set during the spending review process and negotiated between departments and the Treasury. They set objectives for the priority areas of government’s work.

PSA 15 is led by the Government Equalities Office, with data provided by, amongst others, the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Each PSA has a Senior Responsible Officer who is responsible for maintaining a sound system of control across Departmental boundaries that supports the achievement of the PSA. The underlying data systems are an important element in this framework of control.

The most recent public statement provided by the Department of progress against PSA 15 was in the 2009 Autumn Performance Report.

The purpose and scope of this review

The Government invited the Comptroller and Auditor General to validate the data systems used by government to monitor and report its performance.

During the period September to November 2009, the National Audit Office (NAO) carried out an examination of the data systems for the Department’s PSA. This involved, for each individual data system, a detailed review of the processes and controls governing:

  • The match between the indicators selected to measure performance and the PSA. The indicators should address all key elements of performance referred to in the PSA;
  • The match between indicators and their data systems. The data system should produce data that allow the Department to accurately measure the relevant element of performance;
  • The selection, collection, processing and analysis of data. Control procedures should mitigate all known significant risks to data reliability. In addition, system processes and controls should be adequately documented to support consistent application over time; and
  • The reporting of results. Outturn data should be presented fairly for all key aspects of performance referred to in the target. Any significant limitations should be disclosed and the implications for interpreting progress explained.

Our conclusions are summarised in the form of traffic lights. The ratings are based on the extent to which departments have:

  • put in place and operated internal controls over the data systems that are effective and proportionate to the risks involved; and
  • explained clearly any limitations in the quality of its data systems to Parliament and the public.

The findings from the 2008-09 validation exercise (PDF Р138KB) were reported to the Department in February 2009 and cleared with the Department in March 2009.

June 2010

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