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DE007 Audit of the BVPP and BVPIs1

De
11 pages
audit 2004/2005 Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators Devon County Council INSIDE THIS REPORT PAGES 2 - 6 • Introduction and background • Objectives and scope • Audit approach • Main conclusions • The way forward • Acknowledgement • Status of our reports to the council PAGES 7 - 11 Appendices • Appendix 1 - Matters arising from our review of Performance Indicators • Appendix 2 - Action plan Reference: DE007 Audit of the BVPP and BVPI’s Date: January 2005 audit 2004/2005 SUMMARY REPORT Introduction and background Best Value is one element of the Government’s programme for the modernisation of local government. It is intended to provide a framework within which Best Value authorities can improve service standards and performance and consists of three main elements: • a Best Value Performance Plan (BVPP) which reports on authorities’ performance and plans for improvement; • a set of nationally prescribed Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) through which the comparative performance of local authorities can be monitored; and • a process of systematic review by authorities of their services and functions. Our opinion on the Council’s BVPP was unqualified last year. Despite this we made the following recommendations relating to the BVPP and BVPIs: • BVPP should comment on issues raised in the full range of audit reports, not simply our report on the previous BVPP; • BVPP should provide ...
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audit2004/2005Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators
Devon County Council
I N S I D E T H I S R E P O R T
P A G E S 2 - 6 Introduction and background Objectives and scope Audit approach Main conclusions The way forward Acknowledgement Status of our reports to the council
P A G E S 7 - 1 1
Appendices Appendix 1 - Matters arising from our review of Performance Indicators
Appendix 2 - Action plan
Reference:
Date:
DE007 Audit of the BVPP and BVPI’s
January 2005
audit 2004/2005
Introduction and background
SUMMARY REPORT
Best Value is one element of the Government’s programme for the modernisation of local government. It is intended to provide a framework within which Best Value authorities can improve service standards and performance and consists of three main elements:
a Best Value Performance Plan (BVPP) which reports on authorities’ performance and plans for improvement;
a set of nationally prescribed Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPIs) through which the comparative performance of local authorities can be monitored; and
a process of systematic review by authorities of their services and functions.
Our opinion on the Council’s BVPP was unqualified last year. Despite this we made the following recommendations relating to the BVPP and BVPIs:
BVPP should comment on issues raised in the full range of audit reports, not simply our report on the previous BVPP;
BVPP should provide a comparison of actual expenditure to the budget for the previous financial year, together with brief explanations for any major variances;
The directorate PI co-ordinators should carry out checks to ensure that correct definitions are used for all BVPIs;
QA arrangements should include a check by the PIU that the correct ‘common data set’ figures have been used in the calculation for all PIs;
The council should seek more comprehensive information from the independent providers to support BVPI 53;
The council should review the systems of the five BVPIs that were qualified and take the action required to ensure that the indicators published next year are supported by reliable supporting documentation; and
The council should ensure that the reporting problems with the CareFirst system are fuly resolved.
Objectives and scope
Our objective was to consider and report on whether the Council complied with statutory requirements in respect of its BV arrangements and to issue our opinion on the BVPP.
The audit is undertaken in three discrete but interlinked elements:
assessing the extent to which the BVPP complies with statutory requirements as to content and distribution;
assessing the systems you have put in place to produce and publish the specified performance information(PIs); and
undertaking a qualitative assessment of the BVPP as part of the Progress Assessment reporting being carried out under CPA.
This report summarises our findings for the first two elements of the audit, namely compliance and BVPIs.
It should be noted that this report is not the auditor’s statutory audit report on the BVPP as required under section 7 of the Local Government Act 1999, which was issued on 10 December 2004.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Devon County Council - Page2
audit 2004/2005
Audit approach
SUMMARY REPORT
For the compliance audit, we assessed the extent to which your BVPP complies with legislation and revised statutory guidance, drawing upon a ‘compliance checklist’ produced by the Audit Commission. In addition, we also used a BVPI inclusion checklist to consider whether the BVPP includes all specified performance information. Both of these guidance documents were shared with officers as soon as they were available.
For the BVPI audit, we assessed the systems you have put in place to produce and publish the specified performance information. In doing so we produced an initial risk assessment and sample tested specific PIs in detail to ensure that:
there is an adequate audit trail and supporting documentation;
the out-turn information is consistent with other source documents (such as central government returns); and
the correct definitions have been used and the indicator has been calculated correctly.
For those BVPIs specified as ‘high risk’ by our risk assessment (eg, due to significant variances in performance, the BVPI being new or amended etc), a detailed assessment of the supporting systems was carried out along with sample testing of the underlying data used to calculate the BVPI.
Main conclusions
The BVPP is considered compliant in all significant respects with legislation although one minor improvement has been suggested. The number of BVPI errors and omissions (after republication of corrected PIs) was below the qualification threshold and therefore we will be issuing an unqualified opinion in due course. The Council should take further action to ensure that PI preparation is consistently reliable, thus ensuring that the adverse impact of PI errors and omissions on, for example, CPA assessments and LPSAs is minimised.
As mentioned in the previous audit report, the new CareFirst system in place in Social Services resulted in a good deal of additional work for all staff involved. We are pleased to note that these problems were resolved in the current year, and the BVPIs published were more reliable and more accurate. However, we have placed a reservation on two Social Services indicators (BVPI 52 and BVPI 53) as the information was not provided in the correct format by independent providers. We had been assured in the previous year that information provided by these providers would be of a standard consistent with our needs, but this was not forthcoming.
BVPP compliance
Our compliance review concluded that the BVPP contains all the key elements required by the statutory guidance, and we have formed a positive assessment of the BVPP as a whole.
As in previous years, the Council published a well designed and informative BVPP, which communicates the key performance messages and the Council’s approach to Best Value with clarity. Whilst highlighting areas of good performance, it also indicates key issues for the coming year.
Our review did highlight one area where the BVPP can be further developed, relating to BVPI inclusion. This is covered in the next section.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Devon County Council - Page3
audit 2004/2005
BVPI inclusion and accuracy
SUMMARY REPORT
The extent to which all BVPIs have been included in the BVPP, and the accuracy of such performance information, continues to be a major element of the Best Value audit. In previous years a significant proportion of local authorities’ BVPPs received ‘qualified’ audit opinions due to either significant omission of specified BVPIs, or because of concerns over the accuracy and reliability of the reported performance information.
BVPI inclusion
This year we found that all of the specified performance information was included, as required, however there was one BVPI where no performance was reported. Although such omissions need to be avoided in future years, the BVPP has been assessed as passing this part of the compliance test. These gaps are discussed in Exhibit 1 below.
BVPI accuracy
Generally we found the performance information included in the BVPP to be well supported and evidenced, and concluded that the Council has adequate arrangements in place to ensure the production and publication of the required performance information. Some errors were found but progress has been made in this area, resulting in fewer errors than the previous year. The errors found in the BVPP were amended on a data return submitted to the Audit Commission, which will be used to produce a national database of PIs and will compare Devon’s performance with other local authorities. All of the BVPI errors and the amendments to the Audit Commission data return are detailed in Appendix 1.
We found that quality assurance arrangements had improved within the Council to support the integrity of the data that underpins the BVPIs, thereby supporting the reliability and accuracy of the reported BVPIs both in the BVPP and throughout the year. However, there is still scope for the arrangements to be improved, which we hope will be the case with the advent on the new collation system in place for next year.
We have reserved our opinion on BVPI 52, 53 and 192a as the indicators were either not fully supported, or had not been calculated in accordance with the Direction and Newsletters. We have informed the Audit Commission of this and it is likely that they will not include the PIs in their national database of PI comparisons.
All errors and proposed amendments, and reservations and concerns, were agreed with responsible officers during the audit. This resulted in a draft list of matters arising. On production of this, work was undertaken by the Council to address some reservations and to produce the required information. Although this is to be commended, it created additional audit work to verify the revised BVPI systems and performance. All BVPIs should be reviewed by the Responsible Officer, prior to the start of the audit, to ensure that they are calculated correctly, comply with the Direction and Newsletters and are adequately supported by detailed working papers. This will reduce the amount of post-audit effort required for all parties.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Devon County Council - Page4
audit 2004/2005
EXHIBIT 1 – SUMMARY OF BVPI ISSUES
Issue
BVPI omission
BVPI accuracy
Supporting documentation
Requirement
Although all BVPIs were included in the BVPP, there was one BVPI where no performance was reported, the reasons for which were adequately explained in the Plan:
BVPI 44
This is classified as an omission.
Generally, procedures were found to be more robust than the previous year and fewer errors were found.
Some PIs were calculated incorrectly, but were revised on the Audit Commission data return following our review to ensure the correct figures were reported. The error on BVPI 197 was deemed material.
Three BVPIs, BVPI52, 53 and 192a were either not fully supported, or had not been calculated in accordance with the Direction and Newsletters so we reserved our opinion on these indicators.
Further details of all of our findings are included in Appendix 1. The Appendix includes all of the amendments made to the data return submitted to the Audit Commission.
For BVPIs 52 and 53, information is largely provided to the County by their independent service providers. However, for these indicators, the information is required to detail both the number of visits and the hours of visits. At present, the information provided only details the number of visits, and not the number of hours. This has resulted in a reservation being placed against these indicators, as there was not adequate supporting documentation. This issue was raised in our previous audit report.
SUMMARY REPORT
Action
Systems should be introduced to produce the required information for BVPI 44.
All BVPIs should be reviewed by the Responsible Officer to ensure that they are calculated correctly and comply with the Direction and Newsletters.
Every effort should be made to ensure that the correct information is provided to avoid any future reservations against these indicators.
The number of 2003/04 outturn inaccuracies - omissions (1), reservations and concerns (3) and material errors (1) – did not exceed the qualification threshold of ten per cent. Again this year the Audit Commission has taken the view that errors which are corrected, re-published and publicised on the Council’s website, are then discounted in determining inaccuracies for possible qualification. This obviously results in a revised outturn inaccuracy rate of below the ten per cent threshold. We therefore intend to issue an unqualified opinion on the BVPP before 31 December 2004.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Devon County Council - Page5
audit 2004/2005
The way forward
SUMMARY REPORT
The issues raised in this report should be considered and followed up by management and Responsible Officers as appropriate. Action plans should be considered to address the weaknesses highlighted in Appendix 1 and 2.
We will issue a separate statutory audit opinion on the BVPP under section 7 of the Act 1999 by 31 December 2004.
Acknowledgement
Our thanks are due to all of the staff who helped us during the course of this audit.
Status of our reports to the Council
Our reports are prepared in the context of the Statement of Responsibilities of Auditors and Audited Bodies issued by the Audit Commission. Reports are prepared by appointed auditors and addressed to Members or officers. They are prepared for the sole use of the audited body, and no responsibility is taken by auditors to any Member or officer in their individual capacity, or to any third party.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Devon County Council - Page6
On audit this indicator was found not to include nursery children and had to be amended to 1.17.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
The required amendment has been made to the EDC data return.
The required amendment has been made to the EDC data return.
audit 2004/2005
Matters arising from our review of Performance Indicators
52
15
This is a non-material error.
A reservation was placed against this indicator as there was inadequate evidence to support it.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
This indicator was found to be calculated incorrectly and was subsequently amended from 60 to 61.45.
The amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
This is a non-material error.
The indicator included within the BVPP is based on latest estimates. Final outturn information has now been provided and we have re-calculated the indicator.
192b
Education
Corporate health
PI ref
50
This amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
Social services
Devon County Council - Page7
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error.
This indicator was found to be incorrectly calculated on audit and was subsequently to 105.17.
This is a non-material error.
This indicator was originally based on information from the 2003/04 financial year and not the 2002/03 academic year as required. This was amended, but further testing showed that the indicator was largely based on information that had been estimated and could not therefore be proved.
A P P E N D I X 1
APPENDICES
This amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
This is a non-material error.
This is a non-material error.
This is a non-material error.
A reservation has been placed against this indicator as it was not fully supported.
This indicator was found on audit to be incorrectly calculated, and needed to be amended to 0.45.
The required amendments have now been made to the EDC data return.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
192a
193b
44
Matter arising
This indicator was found to be calculated incorrectly and was subsequently amended from 11.36 to 11.26.
Response
51
This indicator is based partly on information provided to the authority from independent providers, who do not provide the information that is required for this indicator. Therefore a reservation was placed against this indicator.
49
This indicator was calculated from data from the 2003/04 financial year, not the 2002/03 academic year as required. This resulted in an amendment to 1:11.85.
Our calculations suggest the BVPI should be amended from £572 to £540.41.
audit 2004/2005
PI ref
Matter arising
Social services (Cont)
53
161
162
195
196
Planning
109a
This indicator is based on information provided to the authority from independent providers, who do not provide the information that is required for this indicator. Therefore a reservation was placed against this indicator.
Working papers provided for this indicator calculated a different figure from that published in the BVPP. These figures were found to be correct, and therefore the figure published needed to be amended.
This amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
Working papers provided for this indicator calculated a different figure from that published in the BVPP. These figures were found to be correct, and therefore the figures published needed to be amended.
This amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
The information published in the BVPP was based on latest estimates, and during the course of the audit, more accurate information was provided, resulting in the subsequent amendment from 69.5 to 60.51.
This amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
The information published in the BVPP was based on latest estimates, and during the course of the audit, more accurate information was provided, resulting in the subsequent amendment from 96 to 95.88.
This amendment was agreed with the Responsible Officer.
This indicator was found to be incorrectly calculated on audit and was therefore amended from 70.31 to 68.75.
Community legal services
177
This indicator was found to be incorrectly calculated on audit and was therefore amended from 49 per cent to 0 per cent. The authority did not have a system in place to calculate the PI and therefore the correct publication was a nil return.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Response
APPENDICES
A reservation was placed against this indicator as there was inadequate evidence to support it.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error.
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a non-material error.
Devon County Council - Page8
audit 2004/2005
PI ref
Matter arising
Cross - cutting
197
This indicator was found to be have been incorrectly calculated, as the figure quoted was the rate for the year and not the percentage change between 1998 and 2002. This figure was therefore amended to accurately reflect the change in rate of teenage pregnancies of - 1.5 per cent.
Audit of the Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Response
APPENDICES
The required amendment has now been made to the EDC data return.
This is a material error.
Devon County Council - Page9
audit 2004/2005
Action plan
Page
Recommendation
BVPI inclusion and accuracy
5
5
Systems should be introduced to produce and publish the required information for BVPI 44.
All BVPIs should be reviewed by the Responsible Officer to ensure that they are calculated correctly and comply with the Direction and Newsletters.
Priority 1 = Low 2 = Med 3 = Hi h
3
3
Responsibility
Peter Bridewell
All PI Responsible Officers
Audit of Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Agreed
Comments
The figure was not published in the correct column in the Performance Plan due to a misunderstanding of the change from reporting between financial/academic years. This has already been clarified during the course of the audit and reported in the addendum on the Council website. The evidence has always been available during the five years of reporting this indicator.
All Responsible Officers, currently referred to within the Council as PI owners, will be made aware of this requirement through their directorate representative of the Council’s Performance Management Group.
Directorate representatives will co-ordinate the work of their respective PI owners.
The Improvement Unit will support directorates and disseminate information about PIs as appropriate.
A development of the new performance management software being implemented is a feature that will require electronic sign-off from both Editing Officer and Responsible Officer.
APPENDICES
A P P E N D I X 2
Date
Achieved
31 May 2005
Devon County Council - Page 10
audit 2004/2005 Page Recommendation
5
Every effort should be made to ensure that the correct information is provided to avoid any future reservations against BVPI 52 and 53.
Priority 1 = Low 2 = Med 3 = Hi h
3
Responsibility
Steve Blandford
Audit of Best Value Performance Plan and Best Value Performance Indicators - Audit 2004/2005
Agreed
Comments
The authority is working to obtain accurate information on the number of weekly visits. This requires a two prong approach in dealing with internal and external providers of the data:
internal providers; work is under way with the software provider TCO to ensure that correct information is derived from the systems; and
external providers; data is already available from the sample week in September and those cases receiving over ten hours have been identified. Requests have gone to providers to identify how many visits each received during the sample week.
It is intended to continue working with the Audit Commission to ensure that the work under way meets the requirements.
APPENDICES
Date
31 May 2005
Devon County Council - Page 11
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