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Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010: Section 114(6): Guidance on Duty of Co-operation for Scheduled Scrutiny Authorities

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2 - IMPROVING REGULATION, AUDIT AND INSPECTION THROUGH CO-OPERATION

2.1 Scrutiny authorities have a range of functions. Wherever possible and appropriate they should work together to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of their overall regulation, audit and inspection of local authorities, local authority services, social services and health services through adopting, as appropriate, some or all of the following approaches:

Have a vision and strategy for co-operation

2.2 Scrutiny authorities should formalise at a strategic level, and adhere to, arrangements for co-operation and co-ordination. T he arrangements should be articulated through joint codes of practice or memoranda of understanding ( MOU) (as appropriate to the circumstances) which set out the necessary protocols for planning and working together effectively, pursuing shared outcomes for people and sharing information and other corporate resources. Strategic approaches to the duty of co-operation should also be reflected in the corporate or operational plans of individual scrutiny authorities.

2.3 Scrutiny authorities should consider opportunities for joint management and administrative arrangements, systems and processes where these represent the most efficient and effective way of doing things.

2.4 Scrutiny authorities should work together to ensure that scrutiny activity is appropriate and proportionate in the increasing number of circumstances where services and functions are being delivered through collaborative and multi-agency arrangements and where users engage with joined-up or connected services. Where there are differing views about what is proportionate or appropriate in these circumstances, clarification should be sought from the Scottish Ministers to ensure a consistent approach across all services.

2.5 Scrutiny authorities should ensure that there is clear communication with the bodies or services being scrutinised about the approaches being taken which result from scrutiny authorities co-operating and co-ordinating their activity. Scrutinised organisations should be given clear expectations of why and how the approach is being taken and the implications of the approach for sharing of data, reporting of findings etc. To assist in this, joint codes of practice and MOUs on co-operation should be made publicly available on relevant websites.

Co-ordinate planning, scheduling and delivery of scrutiny activity

2.6 Scrutiny authorities should increasingly work together to ensure that scrutiny activity is driven by evidence-based risk assessment so that the agreed scrutiny response is formulated in a way that is proportionate to the risks identified and provides an effective level of assurance.

2.7 Scrutiny authorities should jointly design, co-ordinate and schedule scrutiny activity to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication in the external scrutiny of service providers,

2.8 Scrutiny authorities should, where appropriate, agree on how to assess sector-specific self-evaluation methodologies to ensure that these are robust and that they are recognised by all scrutiny authorities as a key part of the scrutiny evidence base.

2.9 Scrutiny authorities should undertake scrutiny activity jointly, wherever practicable and appropriate, where there are services and stakeholders in common, whilst ensuring that the impact on scrutinised bodies is kept to a minimum.

2.10 Scrutiny authorities should advise the Scottish Ministers of circumstances when duplication or overlap of scrutiny functions or activity is unavoidable or where other legislation is constraining the ability of scrutiny authorities to co-operate and co-ordinate their work.

Share information

2.11 Within legislative and other necessary and agreed parameters, scrutiny authorities should share information and intelligence and rely on evidence from other scrutiny authorities to avoid duplication of effort on the part of both scrutinised services and scrutiny authorities.

2.12 Scrutiny authorities should ensure that staff develop a good understanding of the work undertaken by other scrutiny authorities and the evidence which they each use and produce, including the self-evaluation frameworks being used to provide evidence and assurance.

Harmonise scrutiny reporting

2.13 Scrutiny authorities should work towards a common language and common reporting methods for scrutiny findings in order to simplify the outputs of scrutiny for the public, for service users and for services. Where necessary differences must remain, authorities should make efforts to map out the linkages.

2.14 Scrutiny authorities should, where appropriate, ensure that approaches to scrutiny reports, recommendations and action plans are aligned with those of other scrutiny authorities.