Feeds

Gov departments need better data systems, NAO says

8% 'not fit for purpose'

Mobile application security vulnerability report

The National Audit Office wants improvements in the data systems used to measure performance across Whitehall

Many government departments need to improve the data systems they use to report progress in meeting official targets, finance watchdog the National Audit Office has said in its latest validation report.

It found that eight per cent of government data systems were not fit for purpose, six per cent were too new to be assessed, and one percent had not been set up.

The audit office examined the quality of 237 data systems used by 17 departments to measure progress against their 2005-08 Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets. PSAs were first introduced in 1998 to improve the accountability of government spending.

Overall the review found that although departments have improved the quality of their data systems - 50 per cent were fit for purpose and some 35 per cent were broadly appropriate but needed strengthening - they have been less successful at transferring the learning to the development of new data systems.

The report concludes that this year's Comprehensive Spending Review has introduced a number of changes to the PSA framework, aimed at strengthening accountability. The audit office says these changes will address a number of the recommendations it has made about data systems.

A key recommendation is that departments should give greater consideration to measurement issues when setting new PSAs, specifically that all the elements of performance that they are targeting are defined and measurable.

They should also evaluate existing data sources to assess their suitability for PSA monitoring purposes, says the audit office. Reports to management boards should disclose limitations to data quality and departments should introduce a management function to challenge and approve data quality.

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said: "Good quality data is essential if performance measures and targets are to be used effectively to improve public sector delivery and accountability.

"It is good news that data systems are improving, but departments must transfer these lessons to their new data systems. If we are to have confidence in the performance reported by government, all systems used to monitor it must be robust."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.