Dickson –we must see improvements in transparency in Government

Alliance Chief Whip Stewart Dickson MLA has said that we must see improvements in transparency in Government in order to deliver better services. His comments were made during a debate on a series of reports produced by the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “One of the reports completed by the Public Accounts Committee looks into transparency – a cornerstone of good government. It is concerning to read lines like ‘it is important that departments can clearly track and report how funding is spent’- a very basic idea, and one I’m sure the taxpayer wishes was being implemented in every department, every day. But this is clearly not the case.

“Lack of transparency raises its ugly head in several of the reports. There are serious questions to be answered in relation to Housing Maintenance Contracts, and hopefully the upcoming inquiry will shed some light on what exactly has been going on.

“There are also issues elsewhere. The report into safety of services provided by Health and Social Care says that there is a lack of evidence to show safety has improved in the last decade and that there is an absence of a ‘robust measure of the level of patient and client harm’ which makes it difficult for the Department to demonstrate improvement.

“The report into the transfer of military and security sites talks about ‘serious issues in relation to oversight and governance’. It’s astounding that the Department was unable to tell the Committee whether the £870,000 from the sale of the Magherafelt site has been lost to the block grant.

“It seems like many of the issues raised in the reports could have been mitigated by better reporting, better documentation and better processes.

“Increased transparency; better administration; more joined-up working: These are basic and fundamental ideas. They are in no way new or novel, but they need to be continually emphasised.

“Improving governance in Northern Ireland is also a long term process, and progress is often slow as well. I sincerely hope that the findings of these reports are acted upon much more swiftly.”


List of Public Accounts Committee reports

Report on the Use of External Consultants by NI Departments: Follow Up Report (NIA 43/11-15)

Report on the Uptake of Benefits by Pensioners (NIA 45/11-15)

Report on the Bioscience and Technology Institute (NIA 48/11-15)

Report on the Transfer of Former Military and Security Sites to the NI Executive and IIex Accounts 2010-2011 (NIA 58/11-15)

Report on the Safeguarding of Northern Ireland’s Listed Buildings (NIA 64/11-15)

Report on Statements of Rate Levy and Collection 2009-10 and 2010-11 (NIA 88/11-15)

Report on the NI Housing Exec: Management of Response Maintenance Contracts (NIA 99/11-15)

Report on the Safety of Services Provided by Health and Social Care Trusts (NIA 102/11-15)

Report on Improving Literacy and Numeracy Achievement in Schools (NIA 116/11-15)

Report on Invest NI: A Performance Review (NIA 109/11-15)

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