The national audit office uses OR to assess the value for money of public services

Bechberger, Elena and Lane, David C and McBride, Tom and Morton, Alec and Quintas, Diogo and Wong, Chin Hei (2011) The national audit office uses OR to assess the value for money of public services. Interfaces, 41 (4). pp. 365-374.

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    Abstract

    Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) have an important role in assessing value for money in the delivery of public services. Assessing value for money necessarily involves assessing counterfactuals: good value for money has been achieved if a policy could not reasonably have been delivered more efficiently, effectively, or economically. Operations research modelling has the potential to help in the assessment of these counterfactuals. However, is such modelling too arcane, complex, and technically burdensome for organisations that, like SAIs, operate in a time- and resource-constrained and politically charged environment? We report on three applications of modelling at the UK's SAI, the National Audit Office, in the context of studies on demand management in tax collection, end-of-life care, and health-care associated infections. In all cases, the models have featured in the audit reports and helped study teams come to a value-for-money judgment. We conclude that OR modelling is indeed a valuable addition to the value-for-money auditor's methodological tool box.