In reports on information assurance in the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and various Government departments from environment to business innovation and skills, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found weaknesses and a lack of understanding of the risks associated with data providers’ systems.
The FCO was criticised for weaknesses in the data systems of seven “common areas of spend” indicators for estate costs and workforce, leading the report to state:
“Users of the estates figure would have been unable to distinguish a genuine movement from the changes arising from an updated space survey being undertaken.”
Furthermore, the Department of Energy and Climate Change had been inconsistent, the NAO said, in the measures it used to report on total UK emissions of greenhouse gases. It had used the wrong figure in its reporting on the financial incentive cost per unit of renewable energy generated.”
And the report also recommended that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills could reduce the risks to data quality via use of “more formal protocols” over data ownership, validation and reporting.
However, the NAO found data systems at the Home Office to be “adequate” and said that it is making good use of existing management information systems to provide a quarterly data summary. But the report said that the Home Office collects data from non-departmental public bodies for inclusion in the workforce size indicators, and this data is not subject to the same level of control.
An NAO spokesman said that the reports complement the Government’s open data strategy and would be developed to deal with emerging Government practices and policies.
He added: A key issue is the extent to which the publication of data actually attracts further scrutiny and use.”
As an accountant, Nigel Fry, specialises within the audit and accounting sector.