The Government published Business Plan quarterly data summaries (QDS) on 18 July 2011.
They provide a quarterly snapshot on how each department is spending its budget, the results it has achieved and how it is deploying its workforce.
The QDS follows commitments made at Budget 2011 and the Written Ministerial Statement on Business Plans. Their primary purpose is to make more of the management information currently held by government available to members of the public on a regular basis. This information is not audited and the quality and accuracy of the data needs to dramatically improve. However, over time with improvements in data quality and timeliness the public will be able to judge the performance of each department in a meaningful and understandable manner.
We intend for an annual version of this information to be formally laid in Parliament in the Annual Report and Accounts for July 2011/12 onwards.
The information is presented in a re-usable format.
The QDS template is the same for all departments, though many of the individual indicators are unique to the department (especially input and impact indicators).
This is the first time Government has published this kind of information, and while this is a good start, there is room for improvement. Before using this data people should ensure they take full note of the caveats noted in each Department’s measurement annex and treat with necessary caution.
At the moment, people should not be using this data to make direct comparisons between departments for several reasons. Firstly, the business of each department is unique and it does not make sense to compare some measures across all departments. Secondly, many of the measures are not directly comparable because they do not have common definitions, time periods, or data collection processes.
We will be updating regularly the QDS each quarter with the next publication following in October 2011.
Quarterly Data Summary (QDS)
Under the new QDS framework departments’ spending data is published every quarter; to show the taxpayer how the Government is spending their money. The QDS grew out of commitments made in the 2011 Budget and the Written Ministerial Statement on Business Plans. For the financial year 2012/13 the QDS has been revised and improved in line with Action 9 of the Civil Service Reform Plan to provide a common set of data that will enable comparisons of operational performance across Government so that departments and individuals can be held to account.
The QDS breaks down the total spend of the department in three ways: by Budget, by Internal Operation and by Transaction. At the moment this data is published by individual departments in Excel format, however, in the future the intention is to make this data available centrally through an online application.
Over time we will be making further improvements to the quality of the data and its timeliness. We expect that with time this process will allow the public to better understand the performance of each department and government operations in a meaningful way.
The QDS template is the same for all departments, though the individual detail of grants and policy will differ from department to department. In using this data:
- People should ensure they take full note of the caveats noted in each Department’s return.
- As the improvement of the QDS is an ongoing process data quality and completeness will be developed over time and therefore necessary caution should be applied to any comparative analysis undertaken.