Audit Scotland undertakes a number of audits for the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission as part of a wider public audit model. This includes the annual audits of over 200 public bodies, some of which are carried out by private firms; reports on significant issues of public interest; performance audits; audits of best value in local government and of Community Planning Partnerships; overview reports on specific sectors; and reports on the National Fraud Initiative.
Reports already published within 2014/15 can be found in the All reports section. Further information on our forthcoming performance and best value audits is set out below or can be obtained from the business manager for this work, Rikki Young, at email@example.com.
East Dunbartonshire Council statutory follow-up
Due for release: June 2015 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In May 2013, the Accounts Commission published the Assurance and Improvement Plan 2013-16 (AIP) for East Dunbartonshire Council. The AIP is based on a shared risk assessment undertaken by a local area network (LAN), comprising representatives of all relevant scrutiny bodies. The LAN concluded that scrutiny was required in the areas of people management, asset management, procurement and performance management. As a result, targeted best value audit work was carried out in East Dunbartonshire Council during 2013. The findings of this work were reported through the council’s annual audit report for 2012/13.
In December 2013, the Controller of Audit reported the findings of the audit work to the Accounts Commission. This report highlighted a number of important issues across the areas examined that required further development. The Accounts Commission agreed with the Controller of Audit’s proposal that further work be carried out during 2014/15.
This audit will assess whether the council’s progress in the areas previously examined. It will also examine areas of scrutiny and/or requiring further information that the LAN has more recently identified in the 2014-17 AIP. This includes; governance and accountability, leadership and direction in improving and transforming public services and financial management and efficiency.
Managing ICT contracts: Targeted follow-up
Due for release: June 2015 for the Auditor General
Summary: In August 2012, the Auditor General reported on Managing ICT contracts at three public sector bodies; the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Disclosure Scotland and Registers of Scotland. It looked at what factors contributed to the problems encountered and whether any lessons learned could be used by other public sector bodies when undertaking information and communications (ICT) related programmes.
The original report made six overall recommendations to the Scottish Government about actions it could take centrally to improve oversight and monitoring of ICT programmes. The report also provided a number of challenge and scrutiny questions for public sector bodies to use when embarking on ICT projects.
This targeted follow-up audit will consider what progress has been made and what actions the Scottish Government has taken to strengthen oversight arrangements. The audit will assess to what extent other central government bodies have applied the lessons learned.
Falkirk Council Best Value Audit Work 2014
Due for release: June 2015 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In May 2014, the Accounts Commission published the Assurance and Improvement Plan 2014-17 (AIP) for Falkirk Council. The Assurance and Improvement Plan is based on a shared risk assessment undertaken by a local area network (LAN), a group of representatives of all the scrutiny bodies who engage with the council. In the shared risk assessment for 2014-17, the LAN concluded that scrutiny was required in the areas of Governance and accountability and Improving and transforming public services.
This audit will assess whether the council’s decision-making structures, scrutiny arrangements and performance management arrangements are supporting it in improving services and delivering better outcomes for local people. The Accounts Commission has confirmed the importance of councils meeting their statutory duty of Best Value, working to high standards of governance and continually improving services. This is particularly important as public sector budgets continue to tighten, as is the need to make sure that public money is used most appropriately and is delivering maximum benefit.
Aberdeen City Council Best Value audit
Due for release: July 2015 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In 2014, Audit Scotland and its scrutiny partners carried out a shared risk assessment on Aberdeen City Council. Through this exercise it was agreed that some Best Value audit activity should take place to examine leadership and direction and governance and accountability at the council.
The audit will assess:
- whether the council has set a clear vision for Aberdeen which is shared across all parts of the council and the city of Aberdeen
- whether the council has effective systems in place to implement its vision and deliver Best Value
- whether the council has effective systems of scrutiny, performance management and improvement in place at the council and its arm’s-length organisations
- the effectiveness of member/officer working relationships.
Efficiency of prosecuting criminal cases through the sheriff courts
Due for release: August 2015 for the Auditor General
Summary: Our report Overview of Scotland’s justice system (September 2011) found significant inefficiencies in how criminal summary cases progressed through the court system. Cases were often resolved later than necessary, costing significant amounts of public money. We estimated that court ‘churn’ (when a case has to repeat a stage at court) cost around £10 million in 2009/10 and late decisions by the procurators fiscal not to proceed with a case cost around £30 million.
The Scottish Government established a four-year Making Justice Work programme due to be completed by the end of 2014 to improve efficiency in the criminal justice system. More recently, the Scottish Court Service has embarked on a programme of court closures to meet financial pressures.
The Moray Council Best Value follow-up audit 2015
Due for release: October 2015 for the Accounts Commission
In September 2013, the Accounts Commission published a Best Value Audit report for The Moray Council. The Accounts Commission’s findings in the report emphasised the need for the council to: continue to strengthen leadership, particularly through its development programmes for officers and members; integrate its various strategic plans and strands of improvement work; and take a more co-ordinated approach to seeking and making use of the views of customers.
This Best Value follow up report will focus on whether the council has made sufficient progress in these areas since the last audit.
Argyll and Bute Council Best Value Audit 2015
Due for release: November / December 2015 for the Accounts Commission
Summary: In July 2014, we published findings from follow-up Best Value audit work in Argyll and Bute Council. Our report noted the progress the council had made against findings of previous Best Value audit work published in October 2013, but also highlighted that it was too early to assess the effectiveness of plans being implemented. The Accounts Commission concluded that there was still much work to be done by the council to secure the improvements that it required in its previous findings and required the Controller of Audit to report on progress by the end of 2015.
In carrying out this Best Value audit work at the council during 2015, we will consider progress in the areas highlighted by the Accounts Commission in its findings on the July 2014 audit report, with particular focus upon the effectiveness of political management arrangements, scrutiny and roles and relationships, including between members and officers.
We have also carried out additional audit work within a year, such as that recently reported on the council’s decision regarding a proposal for a community buy out of Castle Toward, and a recent commissioning process undertaken by the council on behalf of Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drugs Partnership.