Abstracts: November 17th, 2003

The Audit Commission has come to the conclusion that providing the taxpayer with assurance that public funds have been properly spent should no longer be the primary aim of its existence. The focus of the public sector in the 21st century is improvement and the Commission is responding to this change so it can make a more valuable contribution to better public services. The Strategic Plan sets out ambitions and priorities for its work in local government, health, housing, communities and the environment, criminal justice, and fire and rescue.The Commission is responding to a growing clamour for a change of approach and it believes that to become a more effective driving force in the improvement of public services and a catalyst for continuous improvement, it must change direction. This means no longer viewing those who manage public services as the principal customers for audit and inspection activity, but concentrating on the experiences of people who need and use public services.

A vital role of stakeholder champion has emerged from this change of direction. Stakeholders who can influence change including service users, voters, government, regulators, leaders, managers and professionals who all share a common purpose. Too often in the past they have operated in isolation, failing to establish a synergy for improvement and sometimes working against each other. The task now is seen as aligning these forces for improvement.

The strategy includes a commitment to extend the local government comprehensive performance assessment more widely across public services.

The Commission wants views on its plan and the closing date for consultation is 8 January 2004.

Audit Commission Strategic Plan http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/aboutus/what-strategy.asp?title=Our_Strategy