Need for better monitoring of new initiatives funding

Last year the Scottish Executive launched new initiatives amounting to £1.4 billion. The management of these projects is generally sound, but making changes could help to improve control of the funding and allow better assessment of whether the money is helping to achieve policy aims.

This is the conclusion of a report published today by Scotland’s Auditor General, entitled How Government Works: The Scottish Executive - Supporting New Initiatives.

Last year the Executive announced funding for 74 projects including initiatives to support community regeneration, develop sport facilities, prevent youth crime and develop new businesses. Most of the funding is distributed through a range of partners including local authorities and the voluntary sector.

Deputy Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “This report comes at an important time with the Executive increasingly working with partner organisations to assist in delivering some of its policy goals.

“The report concludes that the arrangements in place for most projects comply with good practice principles established by Audit Scotland.

However, there is scope for improvement in areas such as objective setting, links with delivery partners and monitoring and evaluation arrangements.”

“This report could help the Executive measure more accurately the impact of this substantial amount of money.”

Today’s report recommends a number of ways in which the funding arrangements could be made more consistent and effective. These include that:

  • the Executive should improve guidance to staff on setting objectives, contracting and monitoring;
  • measures of success need to be defined in a way that will allow monitoring of progress against objectives;
  • formal agreements with partners, where appropriate, must cover all aspects of delivery;
  • arrangements for monitoring and evaluation need to be clearly defined from the outset.

The report states that there may be scope to better promote the use of existing guidance by Executive staff involved in delivering the initiatives. There may also be areas where guidance could be developed or improved during the development and implementation of initiatives.