Counting the cost: financial scrutiny of the Department for Transport 2011-12 - Transport Committee Contents

4 Performance reporting

Measuring progress

27.  The DfT's annual report for 2010-11 was a shorter and less glossy document than its immediate predecessors. It contains 10 paragraphs on "measurement of performance and progress" which cover progress against the department's structural plan, key achievements, and input and impact indicators. These indicators were first published in the department's business plan. No explanation was given there of the purpose of the input indicators, which are all concerned with the cost of the rail and road networks and bus services. The impact indicators, which include, for example, measures of the reliability of journeys and road safety, were described as being "designed to help the public to judge whether our policies and reforms are having the effect they want".[42]

28.  The department's annual report simply restates the input and impact indicators without providing any figures or explanation of what they are intended to show. Figures are provided in a separate business plan quarterly update, although there have been problems in some areas with publishing them.[43] The quarterly summary offers no explanation of the figures or of recent trends.

29.  The DfT's 2010-11 annual report gives a very thin account of the department's performance during the year. In particular, simply listing the department's key indicators of performance does nothing to help people judge whether the DfT's policies are effective. The problem starts with the department's failure to explain what its indicators are for. We recommend that the department rectify this omission in its 2011-12 annual report. In addition, the next annual report should include data for each of the indicators, a brief assessment of trends in the data, and the Government's view of the preferred direction of travel for each indicator.

Transport security

30.  The DfT has for some years published a specific annual report on transport security issues.[44] It is the only consolidated source of information on this subject and was originally produced in response to parliamentary pressure.[45] This year the DfT announced that "any necessary transport security parliamentary reporting" will be included in the department's annual report, in order to rationalise reporting requirements.[46] We value the annual report on transport security, which is the only consolidated source of information on this important topic. We would be strongly opposed to any diminution in the quantity and quality of information published by the DfT on transport security as a result of its aim to rationalise reporting requirements by merging the transport security annual report with the departmental annual report.

42   Business Plan 2011-15, DfT, Nov 10 p25. Back

43   Ev 30. Back

44   The latest being published in November 2011, Cm 8217. Back

45   Ibid., paragraph 1.16. Back

46   Ibid., paragraph 1.17. Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 23 February 2012