Reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General - The Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission Contents


Part 4

Learning Lessons

LEARNING LESSONS AND IMPROVING PERFORMANCE

55.  The Commission regularly reviews its own performance and uses the lessons identified to make changes to its internal policies and processes in order to become a more effective regulator. As highlighted in Part 1, the Commission seeks feedback on its activities through its website and makes changes to its advice and guidance in response to feedback from those who use it. Areas for improvement are also identified through the Commission's on-going compliance work and campaign monitoring. The Commission comments on campaigning and regulatory issues in its statutory reports on the conduct of elections and referendums. Where appropriate it also publishes fuller reports about campaign regulation, including recommendations for changes to the law.

56.  The Commission is currently completing an extensive regulatory review, drawing on previous election reports and the views of political parties. The review is looking in detail at the Commission's experience of regulation over the last 10 years to identify areas where PPERA, the legislative framework governing the Commission's operations, can be amended to make the rules more effective or to reduce the regulatory burden on parties and individuals. The review will also identify any required changes to the Commission's own internal practices and policies. Any changes to legislation or statutory instruments will take some time to come into effect. The Commission intends to carry out similar review exercises periodically in future.

57.  Our last report on party and election finance in 2009 found that the Commission did not have a performance measurement framework linked to outcomes as recommended by regulatory good practice. The Commission has now implemented a series of performance indicators to measure its effectiveness as a regulator, and these are used for both internal and external reporting of performance. The majority of the indicators are output based, such as time taken to respond to queries, but there are some outcome indicators such as the number of parties submitting their returns on time. The Commission continues to look for ways to improve its performance measurement framework, for example it hopes to strengthen the linkages between performance measures across the Commission. The Commission regularly reviews its approach to regulation to ensure it is in line with good practice and to see how it compares with other regulators in the UK and overseas. The Commission might find it helpful to develop a "spheres of influence" model to assess where it is exerting most influence and whether there are areas which need further attention, which would also help it develop more outcome focused performance measures[8]. This model featured in the NAO's work on Ofcom.

WIDER POLICY AND REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS

58.  The Commission uses its knowledge and experience of regulation to inform wider policy and developments in party and election finance. It provides government and others with evidence based advice on proposed changes to the regulatory framework, rules and regulations for new elections and referendums, and on the workability of government policy proposals. For example, the Commission provided evidence to the Commission for Standards in Public Life review of political funding in 2010, and published reports on the May 2011 UK Voting Referendum which made recommendations for changes to the rules at future elections and referendums held under PPERA. Most recently, the Commission has used its experience to respond to consultations on the proposed Scottish referendum and on the Home Office draft statutory instrument for governing the rules and regulations for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections, which took place in November 2012.


8   Report by the Comptroller & Auditor General, Ofcom: The effectiveness of converged regulation, HC 490 2010-11, November 2010 Back


 
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Prepared 25 March 2013