Feeds

Gov departments need better data systems, NAO says

8% 'not fit for purpose'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.