Book News: December 15th, 2003

In recent years the concept of scrutiny has gained renewed currency in Britain, prompted largely by the constitutional reforms instituted by the Labour government elected in 1997. Underpinning this development is the understanding that scrutiny is an essential part of ensuring that our governing arrangements are both effective and accountable. The scrutiny map charts the increasing number and variety of bodies now involved in public scrutiny and sets out their functions, powers and responsibilities.Specialist scrutiny bodies are typically organisations that have a clearly defined remit, with specific statutory functions and powers, to evaluate and inspect public sector performance in a particular area. Examples include inspectorates like Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Lay scrutiny bodies may comprise elected representatives (for example, local government overview and scrutiny committees) or volunteers appointed to represent the wider community (such as rail passengers committees), in order to represent the broader public interest in keeping an executive body or policy area under review. Hybrid bodies combine a scrutiny role with executive or other functions, such as school governing bodies or public sector Ombudsmen. The scrutiny map considers bodies involved in the scrutiny of executive government at central, devolved, regional and local government levels, and in the following public policy areas: criminal justice, education, health, public utilities and transport.

Published by the Centre for Public Scrutiny. 25 pounds.