Public Sector – Opinions invited on best value

The Audit Commission is inviting councils to have a say in how it polices the government’s best value regime when the long-awaited replacement for compulsory competitive tendering finally becomes mandatory next April, writes Ben Griffiths.

The commission’s role under best value will be a combination of inspection and audit. Last week’s consultation paper ‘Developing Principles of Public Inspection’ is intended to identify the principles on which that inspection role will be based.

The commission proposes to inspect services from the users’ perspective and ensure it is cross-boundary between organisations and professions.

The consultation outlines eight key principles for audit and inspection work. These include: carrying out inspections without fear or favour from professions or the body under inspection; securing ownership of findings by the body under inspection; informing the public about how services perform; and identifying best practice to inform policy nationally and practice locally.

‘For a new inspection system in local government to work, it must be based on sound principles and value for money,’ said commission controller Andrew Foster. ‘Inspection should be tough but fair. In taking up these new responsibilities, the prize to be won by all involved is continuous improvement in services for local communities.’

Local authorities have until 29 February to submit their opinions on the document.

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