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Using the statutory audit to support continuous improvement in Scottish local authorities

Wisniewski, M. and Stewart, Derek (2001) Using the statutory audit to support continuous improvement in Scottish local authorities. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 14 (7). pp. 540-555. ISSN 0951-3558

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Abstract

The new Labour Government elected in the UK in 1997 has a declared commitment to the modernisation of local government and has proposed radical change to the way councils plan and deliver local services through best value in service delivery. Best value emphasises the role of sound management as a means of delivering service improvements. Best value in Scotland has a core requirement for every council to develop an effective performance management and planning (PMP) framework. The Accounts Commission and Audit Scotland have developed a detailed audit approach to assess and support each council's progress in developing and improving its PMP framework. The audit specified sets out the key features of a best value service grouped under ten criteria, requires each council service being audited to critically assess their current performance, and requires each service to implement performance improvements that are necessary to deliver best value services. The key findings from the first audit are presented together with an evaluation of councils' reactions to the audit and an assessment of the contribution of the audit to continuous improvement in Scottish local government.