In an earlier blog entitled “PCCs’ performance: towards a league table”, I suggested that earlier Home Office material might provide the basis for a reasonably objective league table of PCCs’ performance. In this blog, I’m going to examine how one element of this – namely transparency – might lead to a ranking of PCCs. The Home Office leaflet stated that:
PCCs must be transparent and allow the people who live in the force area to assess their performance and that of the chief constable. Because of this, the Government has set out detailed requirements to allow for this open and transparent assessment.
This Home Office webpage provides more information on what PCCs must publish. This information includes (my emphasis added):
- Who they are and what they do
- What they spend and how they spend it
- What their priorities are and how they are doing
- How they make decisions
- What policies and procedures govern the operation of the office of the PCC
- Lists & registers
For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to look at PCCs’ transparency on spending, and on decisions.
As part of my work in producing the monthly CoPaCC Report, I spend quite some time trawling through PCCs’ websites looking for and at this type of material. Based on my experience, I’ve identified five factors for each of “spending” and “decisions” that I judge help to illustrate how transparent each PCC is. I’ve aimed to make each of these factors as quantifiable as possible (i.e. not rely on my judgement as to whether the PCC meets each of the criteria).
Spending – declaration of “Spending over £500″
1. An acknowledgement on the PCC’s website that he or she should be publishing the material (i.e. “coming soon” is good enough for a point)
2. The material is readily capable of being reviewed (I’ll publish some examples of where PCC material fails this measure)
3. Separate analyses available for Force and for OPCC
4. Timely publication of material (i.e. no more than one month passes before material published)
I wanted to add a factor that related to “minimal use of redaction” – but decided to postp0ne this more complex analysis to a future date.
Decisions – online publication of decisions that the PCC has taken
1. An acknowledgement on the PCC’s website that he or she should be publishing the material
2. Timely publication of decisions on their website (i.e. no more than one month)
3. An appropriate level of background and detail to the decision (again, I’ll publish some examples of where PCCs might fail this measure)
4. Points to reflect that publication of more decisions is preferable to publication of fewer (i.e. allowing the reader to decide which decisions are material)
As a “starter for 10″, I’ve arbitrarily decided to award one point for each of the above criteria, with the exception of the 4th factor on Decisions, where up to three are available (one point for every 20 decisions published to date).
Next week (last week of August 2013), I’m planning to publish a preliminary ranking of PCCs using this methodology. In the meantime, I’d welcome any comments, or suggestions for improvement to the approach that I’ve set out above…