The Scottish Government is committed to reforming and improving public services, encouraging excellence in delivery and a culture of improvement within delivery organisations. We recognise that, in this context, independent, external assurance is important and are committed to ensuring that:
- External scrutiny supports service providers and works with them to drive continuous improvement and provide public assurance about the quality of public services. Primary responsibility for this lies clearly with delivery bodies themselves, supported by external scrutiny;
- External scrutiny is independent and targeted on all services where there is an identifiable and risk-based need;
- External scrutiny is accessible, transparent, accountable, focused on the users, proportionate and based on clear assessment of risk;
- External scrutiny is well co-ordinated and reflects the joined up and collaborative nature of public services.
Scrutiny bodies are subject to two statutory duties introduced in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. Guidance on these duties - user focus and co-operation - was published in 2010.
Systematic Scrutiny Check
To achieve the policy aims, scrutiny activity must be tested transparently against a clear set of priorities. The Government has in place a process called the Systematic Scrutiny Check (SSC) to test the requirement for scrutiny functions.
The SSC is applied to all proposals for new scrutiny and to all existing scrutiny functions to decide which services need scrutiny, and how it would be best applied. This ensures that all scrutiny will become proportionate and be based on risk. The SSC also includes cost-benefit analysis to help inform decisions on the type of scrutiny to be applied.
The SSC sets out the Government's strategic priorities for scrutiny to help ensure that scrutiny should be applied where public services meet these priorities. The SSC also suggests what sort of strategic risk tests and what type of cost-benefit assessment measures should be used to help reach decisions on the need for and scope of external scrutiny.
The Government has produced guidance on how the SSC should be applied.