Select Committee on Environmental Audit Third Report

Lessons for the next comprehensive review of spending

59. The timing of the second Comprehensive Spending Review should not cause the same difficulties as have been experienced this time around with the review coming before the completion of the Sustainable Development Strategy. In the second Comprehensive Spending Review and its report the Government should more fully reflect its commitment to sustainable development and the approach it is adopting, so that it is clear that its spending proposals and performance targets are fully consistent with its strategic policy intention.

60. For the benefit of openness and to enable an audit trail, key guidance on matters to be addressed in the second Comprehensive Spending Review should be publicly available. This guidance should spell out clearly that departments should take into account their contribution to sustainable development in their reviews, proposals, targets and investment strategies and that they should report their overall approach in the resulting documents.

61. To ensure that sustainable development considerations are taken into account and given sufficient weight the second Comprehensive Spending Review should involve a checking mechanism, drawing on the expertise of the staff of the Sustainable Development Unit and, if possible, Ministers with a special interest in the overall sustainable development policy.

62. The next Public Service Agreements should include performance targets related to key aspects of the Government's sustainable development strategy and its commitment to greening government operations.

63. The next Comprehensive Spending Review should make clear the funding position regarding important policy developments which are already known to be under review for completion within the expenditure period.

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Prepared 16 February 1999