Better data will boost public spending efficiency

14 June 2013

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14 June 2013 | Adam Leach

Public sector buyers will be able to identify a wider range of savings opportunities by improving the quality of data across central government, according to a report.

Practical Steps to Improve Management Information in Government, published yesterday and authored by former Logica CEO Martin Read, called for stricter guidelines and controls around how management data is collected and stored by departments. It said that due to the “variable” quality of data across Whitehall, making direct comparisons across spend areas was proving “difficult”.

The report recommended more central support with the creation of a new capability that supports departments by reporting comparisons between them and assists with technology to automate data collection. It also called for regular and systematic reviews of management information to be carried out by ministers and civil service managers.

“Without accurate, timely and comparable management information on how money is spent, it is impossible to manage expenditure effectively. Implementing the recommendations of my report will help senior ministers and civil servants set numerical objectives, hold management to account and drive operational improvements across government to the benefit of all,” said Read.

His other recommendations included the implementation of a quality assurance regime, and for clear and consistent reporting standards to be implemented across all common government operations. 

Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said in a statement: “In the past, government never had a proper handle on how different parts of Whitehall spent public money. Yet improving how we collect, scrutinise and use data is vital in our efforts to strip out waste and work more efficiently. By regularly publishing data showing how we’re spending taxpayer money, departments and individuals can be held to account for the delivery of their objectives.”

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