Evidence for accountability: using evidence in the audit, inspection and scrutiny of UK government

15 April 2010

A significant number of organisations in the UK are charged with the audit, inspection and scrutiny of government. The judgements they make have an impact on the public services we use.

But what do we know about how these organisations collect and use evidence to come to those judgements? And what difference does their work make to the organisations they scrutinise?

A team of researchers led by Professor Sandra Nutley and funded by the Nuffield Foundation has examined how audit, inspection and scrutiny organisations use evidence and identified eight principles for the effective use of evidence in these organisations.

The principles, along with details of the research evidence underpinning them, are explained in the briefing paper, Evidence for accountability: using evidence in the audit, inspection and scrutiny of government, by Dr Ruth Levitt, Professor Sandra Nutley, Professor Steve Martin, and William Solesbury. The research consisted of eight case studies of audit, inspection or scrutiny work undertaken in 2008 –2009.

The briefing paper will be essential reading for anyone working in the audit, inspection and scrutiny field. They will also be useful for policy makers who are seeking to understand more about government accountability.

Download the briefing paper, Evidence for accountability (PDF).

Visit the project website to find out more about the research.

Seminar

The Foundation hosted a seminar to facilitate discussion between researchers and practitioners on the role and impact of audit, inspection and scrutiny bodies. The seminar was Chaired by Clive Grace, Chair of the Local Better Regulation Office and Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff Business School. A note of the discussion is available to download:

Whither audit, inspection and scrutiny? - notes of seminar held at the Nuffield Foundation, April 2010 (PDF).