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National Performance Framework

National Performance Framework

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As part of its scrutiny of the Scottish Government's draft budget 2014-15, the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee has consulted on the National Performance Framework (NPF).The NPF is an outcomes-based approach by which government performance can be measured. It underpins the delivery of the Scottish Government's agenda.
As part of its scrutiny of the Scottish Government's draft budget 2014-15, the Scottish Parliament's Finance Committee has consulted on the National Performance Framework (NPF).The NPF is an outcomes-based approach by which government performance can be measured. It underpins the delivery of the Scottish Government's agenda.

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Published by: The Royal Society of Edinburgh on Sep 02, 2013
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02/02/2015

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Summary 
TheRSEbelievestheprovisionandreformofpublic servicesshouldbedrivenbyan“outcomes-based” approach,i.e.anapproachthatfocusesonwhat servicesaretobedeliveredandwhatthoseservicesaredesignedtoachieve.Wesupportandendorsetheoutcomes-basedmodeloftheNationalPerformanceFramework(NPF).ItisanambitiousandimportantmechanismindrivingeffortstoprovideamoreintegratedapproachtothedeliveryofpublicservicesinScotland.ScotlandPerformsisalreadybeingviewed internationallyasanexemplarofanoutcomes-based approachinthemeasurementofgovernment performance.
Thelong-termnatureofmanyofthedesiredoutcomes setoutintheNPFrequiresannualinformationonthecost,activityandqualityofservicesdelivered.WhiletheScottishGovernmentdoesprovideanannualreportonitsprogressagainstthenationalindicatorscontainedintheNPF,thisdoesnotmakeadirectlink betweenspendingallocationsandperformance.Inordertobeabletofullyassesstheeffectivenessanefficiencyofgovernmentperformance,itiscrucialthattheseconnectionsaremadewithinthestructureoftheNPF.
Followingonfromthis,itmustbeensuredthattheNPFisfullyintegratedintheScottishGovernments spendingplansandthebudgetsettingprocess.ThisisessentialiftheNPFistomeetitsstatedoverarchingobjectiveofunderpinningthedeliveryoftheGovernment’sagenda.WefullysupporttheFinanceCommittee’sviewthattheNPFshouldbeembraced withintheScottish’sGovernment’sspendingplans.
EachofthenationalindicatorswithintheNPFappearstobeaffordedequalstatus.Whilethelong-termobjectivewillbetomakeprogressonallofthem,thiswillbechallenginggiventhecontinuingconstraintson publicspending.Itisthereforeimportantthatamore strategicapproachisdevelopedthatenablestheNPF toactasamechanismthroughwhichchoicesbetween priorityareascanreadilyandobjectivelybemade.
TherealisationofthefullpotentialoftheNPFwillbedependentupontherebeingsystematicintegrationof localprioritieswiththeNPF.
WeareconcernedattheabsenceofexternalinputintotheprocessesthatformthebasisoftheNPF.ThereisaneedtostrengthentheNPFbyincludingmechanismsforindependentassuranceofdataqualityandthematchingofdatatothemeasuresusedintheNPF.Thisassuranceshouldbeprovidedbyanindependentbody.TheFinanceCommitteeshouldexplorewhetherAuditScotlandsrolecouldbeextendedtofulfilthisrole.SuchexternalinputshouldmaketheNPFmorewidel perceivedandvaluedasanobjectiveassessmentof Governmentperformance.
ThereisanoverridingaimtoensurethattheNPFisacentralpartoftheParliament’s‘holdingtoaccountof theExecutiveandthattheNPFdataisusedmoreeffectivelyinthebudgetprocess.IfAuditScotland’sremitweretobeextendedaswesuggesttomaintaintheperceivedobjectivityandintegrityoftheaudit processthenthedutyofinterpretingthemeaningand significanceoftheevidenceshouldnotrestwiththeauditors.Itshouldresideelsewhere.Acommission,appointedby,andaccountableto,theScottishParliamentcouldconsidertheevidenceandmakereportsinpublictotheParliament.A parliamentarycommittee(orcommittees)couldbechargedwithreceivingandconsideringthesereports,withthecommitteeholdingtheExecutivetoaccountanddetermininganypolicyandbudgetaryimplications.Thiswouldfacilitatemoreinformed,higherquality debateontheNPFandassociatedspendingplans;anaddtothevalueobtainedfromtheNPFprocessinenhancingthecost-effectivenessofGovernmentexpenditure.
ItisnotablethattherehasbeenlimitedopportunityfothoseoutwithGovernmentandthepublicsectortoinfluencethedevelopmentoftheNPFandScotland Performs.Thisnotonlyappliestoexternaltechnicalinputandanalysis,butalsotoengagementwiththe public.WeunderstandtheScottishGovernmenthasbeenconsideringlaunchingacommunicationstrategy toexplaintheNPFtothepublic
1
.Webelievethatthis shouldbetakenforwardassoonaspossible.However,itshouldnotberestrictedtoprovidingthepublicwithinformationontheNPF.Itisimportantthataprocessof deliberativedialogueisinitiatedtoensurethatcivic societyisengagedinthedevelopmentoftheNPF.
 Advice Pape
 August 2013
1
THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S NATIONAL PERFORMANCE FRAMEWORK:
a response to the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee
(13–08)
1
SPICEeFinancialScrutinyUnitBriefing(12-12)onTheNationalPerformanceFrameworkandScotlandPerforms;February2012http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/46715.aspx
 
2
 Advice Pape
13–08
Background
1
TheRoyalSocietyofEdinburgh(RSE),ScotlandsNationalAcademy,welcomestheopportunitytorespondtotheScottishParliamentFinanceCommittee’sconsultationontheScottishGovernment’sNationalPerformanceFramework(NPF).WeunderstandthatthisisbeingundertakenaspartoftheFinanceCommittee’sscrutinyoftheScottishGovernmentsdraftbudget201415,whichwillbepublishedinSeptember.TheroleoftheFinanceCommittee,withitsresponsibilityforscrutinisingandchallengingtheScottishGovernment’sspendingplansanddraftbudget,isacrucialone.ThisresponsehasbeenpreparedbyanRSEworkinggroupwithappropriateexpertiseandexperienceinmattersrelatingtotheScottisheconomy.WecommentonboththeprinciplesandoperationoftheNPF. WewouldbepleasedtodiscussfurtheranyofthecommentsmadeinourresponsewithmembersoftheFinanceCommittee.
2
ItistheRSE’sview
2
thatprovisionandreformofpublicservicesshouldbedrivenbyan“outcomes-basedapproach,i.e.anapproachthatfocusesonwhatservicesaretobedeliveredandwhatthoseservicesaredesignedtoachieve.Wesupportandendorsetheoutcomes-basedmodeloftheNPFandthepubliclyaccessiblereportingon,andtrackingof,performance,aspresentedonthe
ScotlandPerforms
3
website. TheNPFisanambitiousandimportantmechanismindrivingeffortstoprovideamoreintegratedapproachtothedeliveryofpublicservicesinScotland.Sinceitsintroductionin2007,governmentbodiesareexpectedtoframetheirstrategicobjectivesinthecontextoftheNPF.Thisprovidesforgreaterstrategicconsistencyandintegrationacrosswhatisafragmenteddeliverylandscape.WerecognisethattheNPFisevolvingandthisisevidencedbythe“refresh”whichwasundertakenin2011.
ScotlandPerforms
isalreadybeingviewedinternationallyasanexemplarofanoutcomes-basedapproachinthemeasurementofgovernmentperformance.WethereforefocusourresponseonwaysinwhichwebelievetheNPFand
ScotlandPerforms
canbeenhanced.
TheneedtolinkexpendituretoperformanceandembedtheNPFwithinspendingplans
3
Thelong-termnatureofmanyofthedesiredoutcomessetoutintheNPFrequiresannualinformationonthecost,activityandqualityofservicesdelivered.WhiletheScottishGovernmentdoesprovideanannualreportonitsprogressagainstthenationalindicatorscontainedintheNPF,thisdoesnotmakeadirectlinkbetweenspendingallocationsandperformance.AuditScotland
4
hasstatedtheneedtorelateoutturnspendingtoresourceallocationandperformancetargets.SuchlinkagesarecrucialforboththeGovernmentitselfandforthebodieswhichholdittoaccounttobeabletoevaluatetheimpactofspendingdecisions.Inordertobeabletofullyassesstheeffectivenessandefficiencyofgovernmentperformance,itiscrucialthattheseconnectionsaremadewithinthestructureoftheNPF.
4
Inmakingtheconnectionbetweenspendingandperformance,itmustbeensuredthattheNPFisfullyintegratedintheScottishGovernment’sspending
plansandthebudgetsettingprocess.Thisisessential
iftheNPFistomeetitsstatedoverarchingobjectiveofunderpinningthedeliveryoftheGovernments
agenda.Anapproachthatsetsoutspendingallocationswithouttakingfullaccountoftheeconomicandsocial
frameworkwithinwhichtheallocationsarebeingsetisflawed.WerecognisethattheFinanceCommitteehasquestionedtheGovernmentontheextenttowhichthisintegrationexists.WefullysupporttheFinanceCommitteesviewthattheNPFshouldbeembracedwithintheScottish’sGovernment’sspendingplans.
5
AmorestrategicapproachisrequiredthatenablestheNPFtoactasamechanismthroughwhichchoicesbetweenpriorityareascanreadilyandobjectivelybemade.TheRSEhasconsistentlyarguedthatallcentralpoliciesneedtore-evaluatedwithaviewtodeterminingwhatisessentialtotheScottishpublicandeconomy.Thisrequiresafullcost-benefitanalysisofpolicyoptionstobeundertaken.Eachofthenationalindicatorswithinthecurrentsuiteappearstobeaffordedequalstatus.Whilethelong-termobjectivewillbetomakeprogressonallofthem,thiswillbechallenginggiventhecontinuingconstraintsonpublicspending.Theremayalsobeinstanceswhereimprovedperformanceinanareamayhavenegativeconsequencesforotherindicators.ItisthereforeimportanttheNPFisdevelopedsothatitprovidesastrategiccontextinwhichprioritiescanbeidentifiedandset.ThiswillbeessentialiftheNPFistobeatoolwhichcaninfluencetheformationofpolicy.
6
Wenotethataspartofitsevolution,
VirginiaPerforms
,themodeluponwhich
ScotlandPerforms
isbased,hasimplementedanonlineperformancebudgetingsystemwhichstrengthensthelinks
betweenperformanceandbudgeting.WerecommendthattheFinanceCommitteeexploresthisdevelopment
withaviewtodetermininghowitmightbereplicatedtostrengthen
ScotlandPerforms.
2
RSEAdvicePaper13-02http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/advice-papers/2013/AP13_02.pdf
3
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/Performance/scotPerforms
4
Scotland’sPublicFinances:Preparingforthefuture;AuditScotland;November2009http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/docs/central/2009/nr_091105_scottish_public_finances.pdf
 
3
 Advice Pape
13–08
Theneedfornationalandlocalpolicyintegration
7
Aswehaveindicatedintheintroductionofthisresponse,theNPFisamechanismbywhichgreaterstrategicconsistencycouldpotentiallybeachievedacrossthepublicsectorinScotland,includingamorejoined-upapproachbetweennationalandlocalgovernment.However,therecentworkoftheCarnegieUKTrust
5
hasindicatedthatwhilethereisaclearlinkbetweentheNPFandtheSingleOutcomeAgreements,theextenttowhichthelogicoftheNPFapproachisactuallybeingappliedatlocallevelislessclear.WesuggesttheFinanceCommitteeexplorethisissue.TherealisationofthefullpotentialoftheNPFwillbedependentupontherebeingsystematicintegrationoflocalprioritieswiththeNPF.
Theneedforexternalinputandindependentassuranceofdataquality andvalidationoftheprocessesused
8
TheSPICebriefingontheNPFand
Scotland Performs
6
indicatesthatthenationalindicatorsusedintheNPFweredevelopedandcarefullychosenbytheScottishGovernmentwithinputfromthewiderpublicsector.ItalsoappearstobethecasethatitistheScottishGovernmentwhichsetsthethresholdsforeachindicator.ThedatausedisprimarilyfromScottishGovernment.TheSPICebriefingpointsoutthatinrelationtothechoiceofmeasuresusedtoassessperformance,
Scotland Performs
doesnotexplainwhycertainmeasureshavebeenchosenoverotherpotentialmeasures.WeareconcernedattheabsenceofexternalinputintotheprocessesthatformthebasisoftheNPF.ItisourviewthatthishascontributedtotheNPFnotbeingseenasaninstrumentofpopularassessmentofGovernmentperformance.ThereisaperceptioninsomequartersofitbeingatooltointernallymanageGovernmentperformance
7
.
9
Weunderstandthatperformanceagainsttargetsisassessedbymeasuringchangebetweenthelatesttwodatesforwhichdataisavailable
8
. Whileitisimportanttobeabletocompareperformanceovertime,itisnotclearwhatbaselinesareusedorwhetheraccountistakenofhowScottishperformancecomparesinrelativetermstothatofothercountries.Forexample,inrelationtointernationalsurveysofschoolperformance,whileScotlandsperformanceputsitamongtheworldshigherachievingsystems,itisclearthatmanyothersystemsareimprovingfaster
9
.Webelievethatthecurrentapproachtoassessingperformancewouldbestrengthenedbymaintaininganddevelopinginternationalcomparatorsof“bestinclassaspartoftheNPF.Indoingso,accountwillneedtobetakenofthedifferentwaysinwhichdatawillbecollectedindifferentcountriesandthechallengesassociatedwithtranslatingstandardsfromonecultureandsystemtoanother.
10
Webelievethepointsmadeinparagraphs8and9demonstratetheneedtostrengthentheNPFbyincludingmechanismsforindependentassuranceofdataqualityandthematchingofdatatothemeasuresusedintheNPF.Thisassuranceshouldbeprovidedbyanindependentbody.TheFinanceCommitteeshouldexplorewhetherAuditScotland’srolecouldbeextendedtofulfilthisrole.AuditScotlandhashadlongexperienceofattemptingtovalidateperformancedata(forexample,theexpectationthatAuditScotlandmightprovideassuranceonreportedefficiencysavings)andthevalidationgenerallyhastakentheformofcaveatedassuranceofthesystemsusedtocollectandpresentthedata.Itwillbeimportanttorecognisethelimitstotheassurancewhichcanbeprovidedbyauditingprocesses.Wereturntothisinparagraph12.ConsiderationwouldalsoneedtobegiventotheadditionalresourcesthatAuditScotlandwouldrequiretoundertaketheextendedrolewehavesuggested.
StrengtheningParliamentaryscrutin
11
TheoverridingaimistoensurethattheNPFisacentralpartoftheParliament’s‘holdingtoaccountoftheExecutiveandthattheNPFdataisusedmoreeffectivelyinthebudgetprocess.WenotethattheScottishGovernmentisnotrequiredtoreporttotheParliamentontheinformationin
Scotland Performs
.TheCarnegieUKTrustreport
10
recommendsthatParliamentaryaccountabilitycouldbestrengthenedbyembeddingtheNPFinlegislation.Whilethisoptionshouldbeconsidered,itcanbearguedthattheScottishParliamentandGovernmentoccasionallyresorttolegislationwhereintentionscouldbeachievedbyothermeans.
5
ShiftingtheDialinScotland;HowScotlandPerformsonwellbeingandwhatitshoulddonext;JenniferWallace,PolicyManager;CarnegieUKTrust;June2013 http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/publications/2013/shifting-the-dial-in-scotland
6
Ibid.1
7
Ibid.5
8
Ibid.1
9
ByDiverseMeans:ImprovingScottishEducation;FinalReportfromtheCommissiononSchoolReform;ReformScotlandandtheCentreforScottishPublicPolicy;March2013 http://reformscotland.com/public/publications/bydiversemeans1.pdf
10
Ibid.5

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