Audit, Inspection and Safety

13.12.17

Government not following up on inquiries in spite of £639m bill

Government inquiries have racked up a £639m bill over the last 30 years but the process for following up on recommendations is not good enough.

These are the findings of an Institute for Government report which said only six of the 68 inquiries that have taken place since 1990 have been properly followed up on.

The institute suggests that parliament should be holding the government to account for these failures by asking for yearly progress reports given to select committees.

It says that a lot of attention is currently focused on what exactly happened and who is responsible for an incident, but this often fails to deal with what can be learned from events.

“Overall, the formal checks and procedures we have in place to ensure that public inquiries lead to change are inadequate,” the report finds.

“There is no routine procedure for holding the government to account for promises made in the aftermath of inquiries, the implementation of recommendations is patchy, in some cases repeat incidents have occurred and there is no system for allowing inquiries to build on the learning of their predecessors.”

The report also recommends that inquiries look to present actionable findings sooner to bridge the average two-and-a-half-year gap between starting proceedings and publishing a final report which can mean other similar incidents occur while investigations are still taking place.

The government currently has eight public inquiries underway, including looking into the circumstances of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London, an inquiry into allegations of institutionalised child abuse spanning decades, and an another into blood contamination.

The Institute for Government says expert seminars should be used to develop recommendations so that issues which need specialist knowledge can be properly understood.

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