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Standards watchdog launches review of accountability in public bodies

Government’s standards watchdog has launched a review into accountability in public bodies, warning that problems are too often not dealt with quickly and effectively.

Over the next few months, the Committee on Standards in Public Life will look at “where public bodies should focus their attention to maximise the likelihood of problems being uncovered and addressed before issues escalate and lives are damaged”.

In a letter to the prime minister about the review, CSPL chair Doug Chalmers said the committee had been “struck by how, when failures occur within public institutions, it repeatedly seems to be the case that indicators of emerging issues were present, but missed, with the result that the window to respond appropriately, before problems escalate, has often also been missed”.

In its announcement of the review, CSPL said it had seen “several examples of major failures within public institutions” in recent years where “opportunities were missed to address issues before they escalated”.

“We are asking, when things go wrong in public bodies, why does it take so long for problems to be recognised and the leadership to respond appropriately and, most importantly, what needs to change?”

Rather than reinvestigating previous incidents, the committee will look at how to encourage more effective accountability within public bodies “so that problems are addressed before catastrophic failure”, Chalmers said.

As part of the review, CSPL has opened a consultation today inviting members of the public to submit evidence on why public bodies might fail to act quickly when problems arise, along with suggestions on how to tackle problems better and examples of good practice. The consultation closes on 14 June.

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Source: Civil Service World, 25 March 2024


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