NAO chief raises data quality worries

National Audit Office chief Amyas Morse has raised concerns about the quality of data departments will receive under new systems designed to ensure accountability in devolved service provision.

By Civil Service World

08 Feb 2012

Morse was speaking at a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on Monday, during which PAC quizzed civil service head Bob Kerslake and Treasury permanent secretary Nicholas MacPherson over the ‘accountability statements’ provided by the departments for health and education.

“The point that concerns me most is how to get quality information into the centre,” said Morse, noting that NAO work on academies found “quite low levels of compliance with financial returns.” He added that “many [accountability] mechanisms can only work if you know in good time against key points of information whether something is working or not.”

A report last year by Kerslake recommended that all departments provide accountability statements outlining the systems through which they’ll ensure value for money among devolved service providers.

Responding to Morse, MacPherson said he’d expect NAO to qualify the education department’s accounts if academies’ spending data is sketchy. “It’s that sort of thing which will, I think, concentrate people’s minds,” he said.

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