Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 covering the period 2008-2011

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Review of the data systems for Public Service Agreement 5: ‘Deliver reliable and efficient transport networks that support economic growth’


This is the only PSA managed by the Department for Transport (the Department) out of the 30 PSA targets set across all government departments. The most recent public statement provided by the Department on progress against this PSA was in the 2009 Autumn Performance Report (APR).

The PSA and the Department

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.

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

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 October to December 2008, the National Audit Office (NAO) carried out a full examination of the data systems for all the four indicators used to report performance against this PSA. This involved 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 allows the Department to accurately measure the relevant element of performance;
  • For each indicator, 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 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 previous version of this report (PDF – 276KB)¬†reflected our work on the Department’s PSA indicators in 2008-09. In January 2010 we updated our 2008-09 findings by establishing what actions the Department had taken in response to our previous report and examining other developments that had taken place.

June 2010


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