The Audit Commission’s annual comprehensive performance assessment has been replaced by ‘Oneplace’ a collaborative venture by six inspectorates. ‘Oneplace’ presents an overall view of how public services are performing in each of the 152 areas of England covered by Local Area Agreements. By taking down their orgainisational boundaries the inspectorates are now fully lined up with the Total Place holistic approach to public services.
The ‘Oneplace’ website displays information and judgements jointly by the Care Quality Commission, Ofsted, the Audit Commission and HM Inspectorates of Constabulary, Prisons and Probation on councils, police authorities, primary care trusts and fire and rescue services. The combined findings of auditors and inspectors paint a picture of how schools, councils, police, charities and local businesses work together and whether they are making a difference to the lives of the people who use and pay for them. The assessments measure how well local services work together to meet both their own priorities and government indicators.
The website offers a way of checking the effectiveness of public spending and helps people hold those who provide publicly funded services to account for their decisions. It paves the way for plans to require local government to release local public data and establish an open-platform Local Data Exchange which will allow the local people to challenge, compare or scrutinise data to improve public service standards. Professor Nigel Shadolt is leading a Local Public Data Panel to make sure data is linked effectively across government, councils and local bodies. Strengthening the role of citizens by radically opening up data and public information is seen as a key driver of improved performance across public services.
The Government has given a commitment to reduce centrally imposed burdens on the frontline from reporting, inspection and assessment and to coordinate timings of all inspections by 2010/11. There is also a commitment to review the work and number of inspectorates. The Total Place pilots have been asked to quantify total burdens across local agencies and priorities for streamlining burdens. Decisions have been promised by the Budget 2010.