Departmental Performance Claims Unreliable, Says Committee

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 26 November 2009

Reference: PAC 05/09/10

Government departments’ reporting of their performance could mislead both the public and politicians. That’s a key finding from the Public Accounts Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which today launched its report into Public Service Agreement (PSA) data systems. The report, which examines the data systems used to measure Government results against targets, contends that the systems are not sufficiently precise.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Paul Maskey MLA, Chairperson of the Committee, said: “The Committee views the overarching PSA reporting system as crucial to Government accountability. If the systems used to measure performance are badly designed, the targets imprecise and the data quality poor, they do not provide a basis for proper judgements.

“It is unacceptable that unreliable data should inform and influence the decisions and judgements of officials and Ministers. This issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“The Committee is particularly concerned that The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), which has a central co-ordination and oversight role in relation to PSAs, has not monitored them rigorously enough. Oversight arrangements have been improved and a new reporting framework has been introduced. However, 10 years after the launch of this performance system, much still needs to be done to ensure that the public can have confidence in departmental performance information.”

Mr Maskey concluded: “In the current economic climate, the Assembly Committees and the Executive must be quick on their feet. The Executive Departments must improve both the process and quality of performance assessment so that appropriate decisions on spending can be made.”


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