In June 2006, Scottish Ministers commissioned Professor Lorne Crerar to evaluate the system of scrutiny of public services in Scotland. The Crerar Review Report was published in September 2007.
The Government published its response to the Crerar Review in January 2008 and in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on 30 January 2008 the First Minister committed the Government to a "radical reform of how scrutiny operates and a substantial reduction in the number of organisations with a scrutiny role".
In January 2008, a scrutiny Improvement Programme Board and 5 action groups were set up to take forward the Government's response to the Crerar recommendations. The action groups all reported by the end of 2008.
The Crerar Review was debated in the Parliament on 3 October 2007.
On 6 November 2008, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, made a statement to the Parliament about changes to structure and also published a supporting document.
In March 2009, the Scottish Government issued its response to the recommendations made by the action groups.
In responding to the Crerar Review, the Government committed to simplifying the scrutiny landscape and making improvements to the way in which scrutiny functions were delivered. The Government, the Parliament and scrutiny bodies have introduced a range of developments to improve scrutiny structures and make scrutiny more proportionate and risk-based.
Progress on this area of reform is set out in Scrutiny Improvement - progress 3 years on from the Crerar Review. Section 2 of this report sets out progress made on the key initiatives:
- Simplification of the landscape;
- Savings on the direct and indirect cost of external scrutiny;
- Improvement to the way in which scrutiny functions are delivered;
- Better co-ordination of local government scrutiny;
- Improvement to complaints handling systems and processes.
The improvements set in train also enable the Government to make a commitment to savings on the direct costs of scrutiny as part of the Spending Review considerations. A paper on Efficiencies from Scrutiny Improvement provides detail on this.