Rolling programme of work 2016/17 to 2020/21

Over the last year we have been changing how we develop our programme of work, shifting to a longer-term and strategic approach focusing on the key risks and opportunities facing Scotland’s public sector.

The new approach will help to ensure that the work Audit Scotland delivers on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission is highly relevant, timely, makes best use of our resources and ultimately improves the use of public money in Scotland.

We have been working hard to strengthen our approach to the development work that underpins the programme by engaging on an ongoing basis with a wider group of stakeholders, about issues that they think might usefully feature in our programme. We continue to work with children and young people, consumer and voluntary groups, and the public policy and academic community to inform our programme of work. 

The programme continues to be based on our analysis and understanding of the key risks facing the public sector. We are also improving how we use data both to inform what, when, and where we audit.

The programme covers all of the work Audit Scotland carries out on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission, with the exception of the local annual audit work and statutory reports. This includes performance audits, audits of Best Value, the How councils work series, overview reporting, follow-up work and statutory reporting, and the shared risk assessment process. Details of Best Value work will be clarified based on the annual shared risk assessment process and the ongoing review of auditing Best Value.

The work programme is framed around nine key public sector risks, which inform all of Audit Scotland’s policy work and risk monitoring activity:

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

The work programme for 2016/17 to 2017/18 is below. You can also see the areas we are considering for future audit work in our five year rolling work programme (PDF | 48KB). This approach helps us to be flexible so that we can respond to any emerging or changing risks and adapt the programme accordingly.

We are interested in your thoughts on the work programme, please contact us if you would like to know more or have any comment.

Work programme 2016/17 to 2017/18

2016/17

2017/18

Overview reporting performance and outcomesskills and capacityleadership and scrutinyfinancial outlook

Local Government
(on behalf of the Accounts Commission)

NHS in Scotland
(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)

Scotland’s colleges
(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)

Local Government
(on behalf of the Accounts Commission)

NHS in Scotland
(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)

Scotland’s colleges
(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)

There are major financial and performance challenges across the Local Government, NHS and Colleges sectors. We will continue to develop our annual reporting to explain the main issues and to drive improvement.

Audits of Best Value performance and outcomesskills and capacityleadership and scrutinyfinancial outlook

On behalf of the Accounts Commission, we are currently developing a new approach to auditing Best Value as part of a review of this area of our work. This is the subject of ongoing engagement across the Local Government sector and further details of specific work will be set out in due course.

Best Value follow-up performance and outcomesskills and capacityleadership and scrutinyfinancial outlook

Three Best Value follow-up audits:

  • East Dunbartonshire Council
  • Falkirk Council
  • South Ayrshire Council
 

Shared Risk Assessment process

Annual outputs: 32 local scrutiny plans and a National Scrutiny Plan

Annual outputs: 32 local scrutiny plans and a National Scrutiny Plan

Working with our scrutiny partners, our risk assessment process looks at where we think scrutiny will make the most difference in terms of helping councils to improve and providing assurance to the public. Read more about scrutiny plans here.

How councils work

Roles and responsibilities leadership and scrutiny

On behalf of the Accounts Commission, we followed up on the 2010 report: How councils work: an improvement series for councillors and officers - Roles and working relationships: are you getting it right? in November.  The messages in the original report are still relevant but needed to be refreshed to reflect the changing context around health and social care integration, community empowerment and continued financial and demand pressures on councils. Read the follow-up report to Are you getting it right?

Member scrutiny and internal audit leadership and scrutiny

One of the Accounts Commission’s key themes in its strategy is to use our work to reflect councils’ responsibilities to demonstrate good governance. Our work in this area will consider how councils use member scrutiny and the internal audit function to ensure effective challenge and improvement.

Performance audit

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Futures Programme  financial outlook

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
In October 2015, we reported on the significant risk to the ICT programme in a section 22 report. This audit is part of a longer-term strategic audit plan in this area. Read the CAP Futures Programme report.

Equal pay policy and priorities

(on behalf of the Accounts Commission)
This is an area of interest to the Accounts Commission, given the associated financial implications. We are currently exploring the potential focus and outputs of work in this area and will be engaging with key stakeholders as we develop our approach. Read more about the Equal Pay audit.

Ferries tendering ecomonic drivers

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
The Scottish Government supports many of Scotland’s more remote communities through subsidised lifeline ferry services. These services are key to people living and working in remote and rural areas of Scotland. We will report on tendering of these vital services.

Higher education financial outlook

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
This audit examines how higher education is funded and delivered in Scotland, including how much public money is invested and an assessment of how the sector is performing financially. It also examines how the sector contributes to national strategic objectives, and how well equipped the sector is to deal with future financial challenges. Read the report on higher education.

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powers devolved powers and responsibilities

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
We reported on preparations for the Scotland Act in December 2014, and published Implementing the Scotland Act: an update in December 2015. This brings significant change to the finances of the Scottish public sector, and we will carry out a series of audits in this area. Read the report on managing financial powers.

Social work leadership and scrutiny

(on behalf of the Accounts Commission)
This audit looks at the scale of the financial and demand pressures facing social work services and how councils and their partners are addressing these challenges. It assesses whether councils have effective governance arrangements in place. It also looks at the impact of financial and demand pressures on users and carers and how councils involve users and carers in service design. Read the social work report.

Supporting Scotland’s economic growth: the role of enterprise agencies ecomonic drivers

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
Scotland’s businesses are the primary driver of economic growth but the public sector contributes to this through a wide range of activities at an estimated cost of £1.1 billion a year. This audit focuses on the role of the enterprise agencies. Read the report on supporting economic growth.

Early learning and childcare policy and priorities

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission)
Our work is in response to pressures we have identified in relation to equity of access across Scotland and the financial impact on councils of increasing provision for 2 year olds from August 2015, and further increases due in 2020.

Arm’s-Length External Organisations (ALEOs)     changing public services

(on behalf of the Accounts Commission)
In 2015, the Accounts Commission wrote to all chief executives and council leaders highlighting the importance of good governance and encouraging councils to apply good practice more consistently. Our work in this area will examine how effectively ALEOs support more efficient and effective service delivery and be informed by the Following the Public Pound Code, which is designed to ensure that openness, integrity and accountability are applied to all council decisions where public money is being spent.

Children’s mental health performance and outcomes

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission)
This audit is part of a series of work on mental health. We have identified a number of risks in relation to children’s mental health services and we plan to carry out this work in order to report on the current position and help to drive improvement.

Climate change and resilience planning / Renewable energy policy and priorities

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
Climate change represents an increasing pressure on public bodies. As part of our programme in 2017/18 we will carry out work in this area. We will engage with stakeholders to consider the best focus for this audit and our future approach to this area

Digital in health digital environment

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
Following previous reports on digital services in other parts of the public sector, we will look at digital developments in the health sector and their impact on people using health services.

Forth replacement crossing economic drivers

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
An audit in 2017/18 will report on this major transport infrastructure project.

Innovative financing - city deals economic drivers

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission)
This is an area of continuing interest to the Accounts Commission and Auditor General. It builds on previous audit work and is part of our work on different models of service delivery.

Managing continued devolution of fiscal powers series devolved powers and responsibilities

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
Further audit work in a series looking at changes to the finances of the Scottish public sector.

NHS workforce skills and capacity

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
We have reported on significant risks in relation to NHS workforce as part of recent audits of the health sector. We will carry out more detailed audit work, including an analysis of information on workforce, vacancies, training places and the future of the workforce given the changes facing the NHS.

Performance audit Follow-up

Roads maintenance economic drivers

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission)
A series of audits in 2004/05, 2010/11 and 2013/14 indicated continuing significant issues in the maintenance of roads. This audit builds on our previous work in this area. Read the report on roads maintenance.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Futures Programme financial outlook

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
This audit will build on that of the previous year, and will provide an update on any changes.

Broadband digital environment

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
Following our initial audit on broadband in February 2015, this audit will provide an update on progress with the roll out of broadband across Scotland.

Health and social care integration: Part 2 changing public services

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission)
This audit is part of our commitment to carry out the second audit in a three stage approach to look at progress with health and social care integration. The first health and social care integration audit was published in December 2015.

Higher education performance and outcomes

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
This audit will follow up on our previous audit report on the higher education sector.

Scottish fire and rescue services changing public services

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland)
This audit will follow up on our previous fire and rescue services work in this area.

Self-directed support changing public services

(on behalf of the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission)
In June 2014, we published an initial audit on self-directed support as the Act was being implemented and suggested we may audit progress in future. We will build on local audit work and consider how best to report on our findings. Read more about the self-directed support progress report.

Impact

We will produce a number of reports setting out the impact of specific audit work.