3 Improving Cafcass's performance |
17. Cafcass has not collected and retained all
the data on cases it needs to properly manage the organisation.
Both the NAO and Ofsted had found problems with the quality of
data held by Cafcass, a situation which was confirmed by Cafcass's
own data audits.
The Department told us that data quality was, however, showing
signs of improvement.
18. The NAO report found that data quality could
be further improved by better Information Technology (IT) systems.
The Chief Executive of Cafcass confirmed that upgrading IT and
improving its reliability was a big issue for Cafcass.
Its main office IT system, the Cabinet Office sponsored 'flex'
system (run by Fujitsu), was yet to show significant benefits.
Cafcass had introduced initiatives to make its IT systems fit
for purpose, thereby improving management information.
For example, one of the projects aimed to provide practitioners
with tools to record information while out in the field and store
it more quickly on Cafcass's Case Management System. Cafcass argued
it could achieve a 10 per cent improvement in productivity with
19. The Department had struggled to find the
right set of performance measures it needed to oversee Cafcass.
The range of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) had changed year
on year. The Department was confident that the range of seven
KPIs it now had in place provided the information it needed for
effective oversight of Cafcass, and that the targets were pitched
correctly. However, it was also committed to keeping the range
of indicators and associated targets under review.
As part of the agreement with the President (paragraph 7), in
future combined Cafcass and Court Service performance data will
be provided quarterly to local areas and Designated Family Judges.
20. The efficiency and quality of the casework
done by the local authority social worker has a big impact on
the amount of work required on each case from the Cafcass family
court adviser, and therefore on their productivity. Where the
family court adviser concludes they can accept the work done by
the social worker, the case can proceed relatively smoothly, but
if not, the family court adviser may decide to investigate further
or be asked by the judge to provide a second assessment. Different
local authorities have radically different demands upon them,
with much greater pressures in areas of high social deprivation.
Even so, all local authorities are obliged to follow the Public
Law Outline. The Public Law Outline expects the local authority
social worker to properly prepare each care case before it gets
into the court system, when it starts to become expensive.
21. In mid-2009 the Department commissioned a
review by external consultants (at a cost of £253,000)
to assess the gap between Cafcass's capacity and that needed to
meet the increased demand.
The review highlighted a number of productivity and business process
improvements to make better use of its staff.
Subsequently, Cafcass brought together eight current and new initiatives
into a single Transformation Programme, for which the Department
provided an additional £10 million in 2010-11.
The Department paid the consultants a further £216,000 to
support Cafcass in developing an effective plan for responding
to the issues identified in the review.
The Programme to transform Cafcass was planned to take until 2011,
by which date the Chief Executive informed the Committee that
he believed Cafcass would be a transformed organisation.
The Permanent Secretary expressed confidence in the current Chief
Executive. He told us that his confidence was greater now the
Transformation Programme was under way, which he was certain would
bring the required change and improvement to the organisation.
56 Q 7 Back
Q 9; C&AG's Report, para 28 Back
Qq 9 and 84 Back
Q 84 Back
Q 84; C&AG's Report, para 3.9 Back
Q 84 Back
Qq 9-10 and 51 Back
Qq 96-98, 103-105; C&AG's report, para 1.1 Back
Ev 24 Back
Q 1; C&AG's Report, para 24 Back
Q 6 Back
Q 6 Back
Ev 24 Back
Q 73 Back
Q 50 Back