The National Audit Office (NAO) has said that 10 per cent of government data systems used for measuring performance are not fit for purpose, and that a third need strengthening to improve transparency and controls.
The data systems in question were used to measure progress against Public Service Agreements (PSAs) which were agreed as part of the Spending Reviews process which outlines the objectives of departments over a three-year period.
The NAO noted in its Taking the measure of government performance review that 58 per cent of data systems in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review were fit for purpose, up from 30 per cent in 2002.
Amyas Morse, auditor general of the NAO, claimed that the figures indicate the importance of measuring PSAs to ensure that the government is performing to the best of its abilities. But he warned that the metrics need to be clearer.
"Measuring government performance is vital. It shows whether the taxpayer is getting value for money, and lets government learn from experience and improve performance," Morse said.
"PSAs became progressively better specified, but were not fully tied into resource management systems. Any new performance metrics need to be clear, measurable and directly related to the resources used to deliver them."
The report also said that accountability at a government level for failures and successes are not clear under some PSAs, and criticised the fact that annual department expenditure is not broken down by progress indicators.
However, the NAO praised other performance indicators, claiming that they provide information on key government priorities and deliver a meaningful measure of progress for the outcomes that departments are trying to achieve.
The NAO criticised the Ministry of Justice earlier this month for failing to implement a clear and consistent approach to financial management systems.
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