Our work programme

reports

This programme sets out the work that Audit Scotland will carry out from 2017/18 to 2021/22 on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission, alongside annual audit work and statutory reports. The work programme covers a range of public sector bodies and services, and is framed around nine key risks which inform all of Audit Scotland’s policy work and monitoring activity. We will continue to monitor developments across the public sector and engage with stakeholders as we develop the longer-term programme. Click on each date below to see the planned programme for that year.

For more information about the wide range of work we undertake and how we report, visit our work pages.

Contact details for key staff involved in specific audit areas are included below. For general programme information, contact the business manager, Rikki Young, at ryoung@audit-scotland.gov.uk, tel 0131 625 1713.

Work programme 2017/18 to 2021/22

Performance audits

Performance audits reports focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources. They can consider issues such as: implementation of public service reforms; value for money; use of resources, and; service performance and sustainability.

Devolution

devolution

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powersTo be published spring 2018 on behalf of the Auditor General

Continues a series of reports looking at the devolution of new financial powers.

 Visit our resource page on financial devolution to find out more about our work.

Further information:

Economy

devolution

Ferry services in ScotlandTo be published autumn 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General

This audit will provide an overview of the value for money of ferry services in Scotland, with a particular focus on the recent Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services tendering exercise.

 Read more about our ferry services audit.

Further information:

Forth replacement crossingTo be published summer 2018 on behalf of the Auditor General

This audit will report on the management of the Forth replacement crossing project, with a particular focus on delivery to cost and budget.

Further information:

Innovative financing - City DealsTo be published winter 2018/19 on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

This audit will report on the development of City Deals to date, especially in relation to the establishment of governance and project management arrangements. A further City Deals audit is proposed for 2020/21 by which time some of the projects associated with each City Deal should be underway.

Further information:

Policy

devolution

Equal pay in Scottish councilsPublished September 2017 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Equal pay is a substantial issue across local government in Scotland. At March 2015, Scottish councils had paid £605 million to employees in equal pay compensation and estimated that about 30,000 equal pay cases remained outstanding. This audit will focus on the implementation of the ‘Single Status Agreement’ in Scottish councils, including: scrutinising how councils have addressed equal pay claims, assessing their approaches to on-going equal pay issues, and considering how lessons learned can be applied to other challenges facing local government and the wider public sector.

 Read more about our equal pay audit.

Further information:

Early learning and childcareTo be published February 2018 on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

The overall aim of the initial audit is to answer the question: How effectively are the Scottish Government and councils working together to improve outcomes for children and support parents by expanding access to funded early learning and childcare? We anticipate undertaking further audit work to assess the longer-term implementation and impact of this important policy as the funded hours increase further.

 Read more about our early learning audit.

Further information:

Public service reform

devolution

Health and social care integration: part 2To be published autumn 2018 on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

The audit will follow up the emerging risks highlighted in the 2015 report, including: governance arrangements, budget-setting, strategic planning, engagement with the voluntary sector and carers, and the development of localities. Where possible, it will also examine the evidence for significant shifts in service delivery, from acute to community-based and preventative services.

Further information:

Performance and outcomes

devolution

Children and young people's mental healthTo be published summer 2018 on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

There was strong feedback in support of undertaking an audit on children’s mental health services when consulted stakeholders on the mental health briefing that was prepared for the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission. Research suggests early intervention has positive impact on life chances but the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) performance is poor across Scotland and there is a lack of monitoring of spend, outcomes, and transitions into adult mental health care. These areas would all fall within the scope of this audit work.

Further information:

Skills and capacity

devolution

NHS workforcePublished summer 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General

The NHS workforce audit will be split into two parts. This first audit will focus on the clinical workforce in acute hospitals, and will assess how well this workforce is managed to meet the demands of the Scottish population for acute services. A subsequent, future audit will focus on the preparedness of the general practice and community-based workforce to meet increased demand for local care provision.

  Read more about our first audit on NHS workforce planning.

Further information:

Digital

devolution

Principles for a digital futurePublished May 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General

Advances in digital technologies offer public sector organisations increasing opportunities to transform how they provide services. Examples range from the public using websites to access information and services and organisations improving how they use data, to doctors using computer-based technology to treat patients.

As more and more organisations embark on digital transformation programmes, it has never been more important to get it right.

This document summarises issues we have identified in our previous reports, bringing together all the common themes into one place. We also point to other examples from around the world.

 Read more and download principles for a digital future

Further information:

Leadership and scrutiny

devolution

Arm's-Length External organisations (ALEOs)To be published spring 2018 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

This audit will examine the use that councils are making of arm’s-length external organisations (ALEOs), the quality of elected member oversight and scrutiny of their performance, and the impact that the use of ALEOs is having on improving value-for-money and improving outcomes for communities.

 Read more about our audit on ALEOs.

Further information:

Performance audit follow-up

These reports review the progress which has been made since our original report was published.

CAP Futures programme follow-upPublished June 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General

We published an update report on the Scottish Government’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Futures programme in May 2016. It is anticipated that this programme will come to an end in March 2017 once the £178 million budget has been utilised. We plan to review what action the Scottish Government took against our recommendations, what has been delivered for the money, and what has still to be delivered and how this will be funded. We will also be able to provide an update on how successfully the 2016 payments to farmers were delivered, and how the 2017 application process went. This work will complement the work of our European Agricultural Funds Audit team and fit in with their local reporting timeline.

  Read more about our CAP Futures programme audit.

Further information:

Self-directed support: 2017 progress reportPublished August 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Our previous audit on self-directed support (SDS) from June 2014 examined councils’ early progress in implementing the ten-year strategy and their readiness for the Act, which came into force in April 2014. This follow-up audit aims to establish whether councils, health and social care integration authorities and the Scottish Government are making sufficient progress in implementing SDS to achieve the aims of the SDS strategy.

 Read more about our self-directed support audit.

Further information:

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service - an updateTo be published spring 2018 on behalf of the Auditor General

This audit will follow-up on the recommendations made in the 2015 report and evaluate the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's longer term progress in reforming how it delivers its services and contributes to the Scottish Government's community safety agenda.

Further information:

Impact reports

These reports summarise the impact of a performance audit. They are published around 18 months after the audit report, and cover the response to the report, and how conclusions and recommendations were acted upon by audited bodies and others, such as the Parliament.

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Roads Maintenance

Social work in Scotland

Overview reporting

These reports assess the overall performance of key parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, local government and colleges.

Scotland’s colleges 2017Published June 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General

Our report will comment on the sector’s performance from a financial and non-financial perspective. We will also highlight any future challenges the sector faces.

 Read more about our colleges report

Further information:

Local government in Scotland: Financial overview To be published autumn 2017 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Strategic financial story for local government in Scotland in 2016/17.

Further information:

NHS in Scotland 2017To be published autumn 2017 on behalf of the Auditor General

This is our annual report on how the NHS in Scotland is performing. The overall aim of the audit is to answer the question: How well is the NHS in Scotland performing and is it equipped to deal with the challenges ahead?

 Read more about our NHS in Scotland audit.

Further information:

Local government in Scotland: Performance and challengesTo be published spring 2018 on behalf of the Accounts Commission

We will use the wider overview report to highlight issues that the Commission, through its strategy, has identified as being of greatest importance. We will also report on:

  • current and future challenges councils are facing, and the pressures on key services;
  • how councils have responded to budgetary pressures and changing demand on services, for example through workforce reductions and service redesign; and
  • councils’ performance and progress in meeting challenges

Further information:

How councils work

This is a series of publications designed to support improvement in local government.

We are proposing that the Accounts Commission puts its programme of How Councils Work (HCW) reports on hold until the first six early Best Value audits (Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, West Lothian, Orkney and Clackmannanshire) have reported and that the Commission uses the evidence and issues arising from those audits to identify its priorities for future HCW reporting.

Further information:

Audits of Best Value

These reports audit how well councils are meeting their statutory duty of Best Value.

Six Best Value reports:

Performance audits

Devolution

devolution

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powersTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Continues a series of reports looking at the devolution of new financial powers.

Further information:

Employability - transfer of powersTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission (to be confirmed)

The Scottish Government will assume responsibility for elements of employability support from April 2017, with the remainder transferring in 2018. We will review progress with the transitional arrangements in 2017 and preparedness for/early progress with full transfer.

Further information:

Economy

devolution

Value for money of non-profit distributing (NPD) projectsTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

This audit will use a case study approach to assess whether NPD has achieved its aim of curtailing excessive private sector profits, and assess the impact of the Office for National Statistic's decision to classify the Aberdeen West Peripheral Route as being subject to public sector control.

Further information:

Policy

devolution

Reforming public services through better asset managmentTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

This audit will focus on how well public bodies are working together to transform local public service delivery through improved use of assets (physical and human). It will consider how well public partners are using public assets (including the skills and capacity of local communities) to improve local service outcomes. It will provide an opportunity to assess the early impact of the Community Asset transfer element of the Community Empowerment Act.

Further information:

HousingTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

The scope of this work is still to be decided, but is likely to focus on issues of housing supply and progress that has been made in delivering the Scottish Government housing action plan. It will follow up on the issues identified in the 2013 Housing in Scotland report in the context of the changed policy context and ambitious improvement targets that the Scottish Government has set in this area, in particular to increasing the supply of affordable homes.

Further information:

Public service reform

devolution

Community Justice 1To be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

Responsibility for community justice will be transferred from Community Justice Authorities to Community Planning Partnerships in April 2017, together with the establishment of Community Justice Scotland. We will undertake a two-phase approach, with phase 1 assessing the immediate transfer of responsibilities and the establishment of Community Justice Scotland. Phase 2 will examine the longer-term impact of the reform.

Further information:

Performance and outcomes

devolution

Higher education - widening access: progress reviewTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Our first report on higher education was published in 2016 and there were a number of areas that could warrant further work. These include participation (more detailed examination of student body, courses of study and outcomes) and widening access (first two targets are due to be delivered in 2020/21 and we could review progress). There are also likely to be significant implications for higher education from Brexit.

Further information:

Prisoner healthcareTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

The majority of prisoners have mental health issues. Healthcare in prisons is the responsibility of the NHS and demand from the prison population is rising. There are concerns over the quality of healthcare being provided and the outcomes for prisoners.

Further information:

Skills and capacity

devolution

NHS workforce 2To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

We have reported on significant risks in relation to NHS workforce. We will carry out more detailed audit work on the community-based care workforce and in light of changing demographics of the workforce, role and NHS challenges.

Further information:

Digital

devolution

Digital progress in central government and healthTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General

This audit will look at the progress that the Scottish Government making in delivering on its digital ambitions. This will include progress against the digital strategy, the impact of new assurance arrangements, and comparing the approach and progress in the digital directorate in central government and the e-health directorate.

Further information:

Leadership and scrutiny

devolution
 

Performance audit follow-up

BroadbandTo be published on behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission

We will provide an update on what has been achieved from the public sector’s two contracts with BT (due to complete at the end of 2017) as well as comment on progress towards the Scottish Government’s vision of world-class infrastructure by 2020 and 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage by 2021.

Further information:

Impact reports

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

The role of Scotland's Enterprise Agencies

Equal pay

Early learning and childcare

City Deals

Children's mental health

NHS workforce

Ferries tendering

Forth replacement crossing

Scottish fire and rescue

Overview reporting

Local government in Scotland: Financial overview To be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

Strategic financial story for local government in Scotland in 2017/18.

Further information:

Local government in Scotland: Performance and challengesTo be published on behalf of the Accounts Commission

We will use the wider overview report to highlight issues that the Commission, through its strategy, has identified as being of greatest importance. We will also report on:

  • current and future challenges that councils are facing, and the pressures on key service areas;
  • how councils have responded to budgetary pressures and changing demand on services, for example through workforce reductions and service redesign; and
  • councils’ performance and progress in meeting challenges.

Further information:

NHS in Scotland 2018To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

This is our annual report on how the NHS in Scotland is performing. The overall aim of the audit is to answer the question: How well is the NHS in Scotland performing and is it equipped to deal with the challenges ahead?

Further information:

Scotland’s colleges 2018To be published on behalf of the Auditor General

Our report will comment on the sector’s performance both from a financial and non-financial perspective. We will also highlight any future challenges the sector faces.

Further information:

How councils work

Reports for this year to be confirmed

Audits of Best Value

Six Best Value reports to be confirmed following the 2017/18 process.

Performance audits

Devolution

devolution

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powers

Economy

devolution

Supporting economic growth - role of local authorities

A9 dualling

Policy

devolution

Early learning and childcare 2

Flood risk management

Waste management

Skills planning and investment

School educational attainment

Public service reform

devolution
 

Performance and outcomes

devolution

Higher education(finances)

Prisoner healthcare

Skills and capacity

devolution
 

Digital

devolution

Digital progress in local government

Leadership and scrutiny

devolution
 

Performance audit follow-up

 

Impact reports

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

ALEOs

Community justice

Employability - transfer of new powers

Higher education - widening access

Digital in central government and health

VFM of NPD projects

Reforming public services through better Asset Management

Housing

Overview reporting

Local government financial overview

Local government overview

NHS in Scotland

Scotland’s colleges

How councils work

To be confirmed

Audits of Best Value

Seven Best Value reports to be confirmed following the 2018/19 SRA process.

Performance audits

Devolution

devolution

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powers

Economy

devolution

Innovative Financing - City Deals 2

Supporting economic growth: impact of enterprise and skills review

Policy

devolution

Housing

Youth justice

Public service reform

devolution

Health and social care integration 3

Performance and outcomes

devolution

Higher education

Improving outcomes for looked after children

Impact of investment in the school estate

Skills and capacity

devolution

Workforce planning for skills post Brexit

NHS Workforce 3

Digital

devolution

Digital services (learning or justice)

Leadership and scrutiny

devolution
 

Performance audit follow-up

Commonwealth Games legacy - six years on

Impact reports

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Community empowerment

NHS workforce 2

Prisoner healthcare

Supporting economic growth - role of local authorities

A9 dualling

Flood risk management

Skills planning and investment

School education attainment

HE finances

Waste management

Overview reporting

Local government financial overview

Local government overview

NHS in Scotland

Scotland’s colleges

How councils work

To be confirmed

Audits of Best Value

Six Best Value reports to be confirmed following 2020/21 SRA process.

Performance audits

Devolution

devolution

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powers

Economy

devolution

Development of Scotland's new agriculture and fishing policy post Brexit

Policy

devolution

Social security

Early learning and childcare 3

Criminal justice

Public service reform

devolution
 

Performance and outcomes

devolution

Mental health 3

Skills and capacity

devolution
 

Digital

devolution

Progress against digital strategy - five years on

Leadership and scrutiny

devolution
 

Performance audit follow-up

 

Impact reports

The order in which reports are published might change depending on any significant policy developments that impact on audit recommendations:

Innovative Financing - City Deals 2

Supporting economic growth: impact of enterprise and skills review

Housing

Youth justice

Higher education

Improving outcomes for looked after children

Impact of investment in the school estate

Overview reporting

Local government financial overview

Local government overview

NHS in Scotland

Scotland’s colleges

How councils work

To be confirmed

Audits of Best Value

6 Best Value reports to be confirmed following 2020/21 SRA process.

Audit risks

devolved powers and responsibilities Uncertainties around further devolved powers and responsibilities
performance and outcomes Failure to deliver performance and outcomes
policy and priorities Inconsistent and/or failure to deliver policy and priorities
financial outlook Challenging financial outlook
skills and capacity Shortfall in skills and capacity
reforming public services Impact on/of changing/reforming public services
leadership and scrutiny Ineffective leadership and scrutiny
economic drivers Failures around economic drivers
digital environment Lack of capacity/track record in developing the digital environment