Government must report on Compact implementation, says NAO

09 Jan 2012 News

Government departments should ensure that implementation of the Compact is monitored and reported, and that rationale for funding decisions is clear to civil society organisations, the National Audit Office has said in a new report.

Government departments should ensure that implementation of the Compact is monitored and reported, and that rationale for funding decisions is clear to civil society organisations, the National Audit Office has said in a new report.

The report, Central government’s implementation of the national Compact, finds that government departments were supportive of the Compact and there were good examples of it being applied. Overall, it considered there was little evidence that the implementation of the Compact in central government was fundamentally flawed.

However, the National Audit Office (NAO) also found that departments faced a challenge in identifying and monitoring Compact compliance, and its analysis of complaints about the Compact’s implementation indicates that there is scope for improvement.

Over the last six years funding was the most common reason for civil society organisations notifying the Compact Advocacy Programme of potential non-compliance with the Compact.

The NAO recommends that government departments have clear leadership on the Compact, strengthen its implementation, make sure the reasons for funding decisions is clear to charities.

It also urges government departments to make sure they meet 12-week consultation periods - and if they don't, to explain why - after finding that the Compact benchmark requiring departments to allow 12 weeks for responding to consultations is often not met.

The Office for Civil Society is urged to clarify who has responsibility for promoting Compact compliance and increasing awareness centrally.

It found that its precise role with regards to the Compact was unclear.

Simon Blake, chair of Compact Voice, said: “We are delighted that the Compact is supported by government departments and that the NAO have found good examples of it being applied. However the report also identifies gaps that must be addressed. We expect the government to implement the recommendations in full and we will be pressing the minister on this.

"In particular the report highlights that there needs to be more visible leadership on the Compact both in OCS and across Whitehall. This echoes the findings of our 2011 annual survey and remains the most important issue.

"We will also expect government departments to undertake work to identify the degree of their Compact compliance, as it is important that government departments know whether they are successfully implementing the Compact.”

NAO's findings are based on work at nine departments, representing 98 per cent of central government’s expenditure on civil society. It also consulted the civil society sector.

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