Home News Business Auditors question DEFRA’s investment in GIS

Auditors question DEFRA’s investment in GIS

UK: The National Audit Office, UK, reported that Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) did not deliver full value of GBP 39.3 million investment in GIS. According to the report, the department estimated savings of GBP 9.1 milion and that while this is likely to be an under-estimate, it is unable to produce a more accurate figure.
The strategy, launched in 2002 and refreshed in 2009, was set up to promote the sharing of geographic information between DEFRA and its arm’s length bodies. It also aimed to make the best use of GIS and the skills needed to manage and analyse data. But, the report revealed that DEFRA did not set targets for the benefits or hold arm’s length bodies responsible for collaborating on delivering the strategy.
In addition, the department did not track the full cost of the strategy in the nine years since its launch. The auditor found that DEFRA did not know how much was spent on GIS, how important it was to the business and what benefits it achieved.
“This lack of financial information means that the NAO cannot determine that value for money has been achieved,” said NAO chief Amyas Morse.
The report mentioned that DEFRA recognises some of these weaknesses and in February 2011 began to focus on how it could share costs and investment in GIS across its arm’s length bodies. While the department’s focus to date has been on developing technology, it must turn its attention to a more business-focused strategy, with measurable targets and defined benefits.
Morse stated “Given the importance of geographic information to the activities of DEFRA, it is surprising how little it knows about whether its strategy is achieving value for money. The department’s GIS have developed significantly, but they should serve the business needs of the department much more coherently if good public value is to be demonstrated.”
Source: NAO