the scottish government: line of sight

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1. The Scottish Government: Line of Sight A case study by the National School of Government on Scotland’s outcomes based approach to government March 2009

3. The Line of Sight The Scottish National Party’s 2007 election resulted in a greater outcome focus in Scotland’s public service Arriving with a clear overarching vision for Scotland underpinned by five strategic objectives, the challenge for the civil service was a translation of this outcome focus into a system of government The idea was to create a multifunctional organisation by “making sure we all had something common to point at” 1 David Henderson, Interviewed 30/7/2008

4. Hitting the ground running The idea of outcomes was not new: Sir John Elvidge, Permanent Secretary, had been a driving force behind the idea of an ‘outcome focus’ for the civil service and was essential in preparing the ground for the change The 2006 Futures Project saw development of two key pieces of research (ref) providing context for thinking about 10-year outcomes, issues and challenges Preparation for the 2007 Spending Review took futures thinking further to strategic resource allocation This thinking meant that in May 2007, officials were in a position to support an outcome-focused system of government

5. Five key changes The move to an outcome focus can be summarised in five stages Restructuring the government The Legislative Programme and Economic Strategy The Scottish Spending Review (SSR) and the National Performance Framework The ‘Scotland Performs’ website Single Outcome Agreements

6. Restructuring the Government Aimed at aligning government structure and management systems more closely with objectives Five cabinet secretaries were appointed to areas of Finance and Sustainable Growth; Health and Wellbeing; Education and Lifelong Learning, Justice and Communities; and Rural Affairs and the Environment Restructuring of the Strategic Board of the Civil Service led to five Director Generals (later six) leading work on each strategic priority These roles replaced Head of Department roles, while departments were abolished and replaced with Directorates. Each Director was supported and line managed by a Director General, ensuring that all work was focused on achieving the Cabinet’s strategic objectives For example, the Housing and Regeneration Directorate moved within the Health and Wellbeing portfolio to ensure cross-cutting approaches – Sir John Elvidge emphasized the need to use different parts of the delivery system

7. Restructuring the Government

8. The Legislative Programme and Economic Strategy Legislative programme set overarching strategic direction through eleven items of legislation, structured around objectives In the words of an official, “This was quite revolutionary for us” – the previous administration had identified 450 commitments for delivery based largely on inputs Legislative programme was followed by the Government Economic Strategy (GES) Established sustainable economic growth as the unifying Purpose of the Scottish Government and public sector Set out seven Purpose targets to be used to drive and monitor delivery – long term, measurable targets inform government spending decisions and have provided an outcome focus for the Scottish government and public sector

9. The Legislative Programme and Economic Strategy “We are introducting a new outcomes-based model for tracking Scotland’s economic performance. Clear and simple targets support the overall purpose of this Government and our five strategic objectives. We want this strategy to deliver benefits that are real and meaningful – improvements for everyone in Scotland” - Alex Salmond, speaking at the launch of the economic strategy on November 13, 2007

10. The Scottish Spending Review (SSR) and the National Performance Framework The SSR established the ‘how’ of the new outcomes focus, setting out resource allocation and means of performance management “Our purpose is to create a more successful Scotland through increased sustainable economic growth. Our spending over the next three years is aligned to achieving that purpose. Unlike previous budgets in Scotland, this budget will match our spending with our overarching purpose of government. It is a major step forward in aligning the whole of the public sector in support of our key objectives…We will invest explicitly in making Scotland wealthier and fairer; smarter; healthier; safer and stronger and greener with the overall purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth.” John Swinney, 14 Nov 2007, Scotland’s Budget and Spending Review, The Scottish Parliament,, accessed 7 Jan 2009

11. National Performance Framework comprises a two-page document, articulating fifteen national outcomes and forty-five measurement indicators that sit below the overarching purpose and five strategic objectives Individual outcomes contribute to more than one priority, necessitating cross-cutting work between departments The Scottish Spending Review (SSR) and the National Performance Framework

12. The fifteen ‘National Outcomes’

13. The National Performance Framework (cont.)

14. Scotland Performs Live system of measurement for the National Performance Framework, mapping the ‘line of sight’ from overarching purpose to specific indicators Modelled on Virginia Performs, on which key indicators are tracked - Virginians can see how their state is doing, and government can measure their efforts Each national outcome links to data on corresponding national indicators with details on methodology of compiling data, as well as to data on related indicators – illustrates trends Emphasis is on how Scotland is performing, as opposed to government, as outcome framework is about aligning the public sector and society in partnership Plans to extend Scotland Performs within the government to map specific directorate programmes and projects to national outcomes – benefits include drawing economists, statisticians and others researchers earlier and more firmly into the policymaking process

15. Single Outcome Agreements Alongside the GES, the SSR and the National Performance Framework came an altered relationship with local authorities Previously, local authorities felt hamstrung by funding arrangements and were not seen as full and equal partners Along with the Spending Review, a Concordat was signed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) A main provision was a reduction in ring-fencing and a retention of efficiency savings for local authorities to reinvest It further gave local authorities a new freedom to spend, focusing on priorities that reflected local needs as long as they fed into the national Purpose

16. Along with this new freedom, local authorities were invited to prepare draft outcome agreements to identify council priorities Using the network of directors in central government, suitable outcomes for local authorities were evaluated and a broader range of performance indicators were developed “All the outcome agreements are uniquely shaped to reflect the needs and circumstances of the areas they cover…But in one crucial way the agreements are also all the same. Each…maps out a brighter, more successful future for the people of Scotland” 1 1 The Scottish Government (2008), Single Outcome Agreements, , accessed 7 Jan 2009 Single Outcome Agreements

17. An extract from South Ayrshire’s Single Outcome Agreement (SOA), demonstrating how local priorities feed into the National Outcomes

18. The Line of Sight The government’s overall strategy has a clear line of sight between its Purpose and delivery At present, it is easy to map how fifteen National Outcomes cluster around five strategic objectives, all sitting beneath an overarching Purpose Local priorities and indicators are mapped directly onto the National Performance Framework The next phase of Single Outcome Agreements includes community planning partners in a contractual agreement, bringing third sector and wider public sector bodies in line with the National Performance Framework Put simply, “If you are not doing it to create sustainable economic growth, then you shouldn’t be doing it”

19. Ways of working The clearly articulated focus of the National Performance Framework has led to changes in working practices and culture Heads of Departments have been abolished and replaced by a more collegiate board of Director Generals with broad and cross cutting responsibilities, leading to a change in work-styles at the highest levels Changes include being members of a team-leadership rather than hierarchical system, while the role of Director has moved up a level and now represent the top of the pyramid at a directorate level Because outcomes are broad, general and require many partners in a system, the role of those working in central government has had to become more about being the hub of a network – the centre is looked to to facilitate discussion, ensure collective and consultative decision making, and manage relationships

20. Assessing the impact: difficulties Accountability While Minister’s portfolios deliberately do not map onto strategic objectives, emphasizing cross cutting responsibility for outcomes, Scotland’s new outcome focus has raised accountability challenges The primary challenge has been to map inputs against outputs, particularly at a local authority level where a single outcome is the responsibility of a range of community partners Scotland performs and the national indicators have partly allayed these problems by helping to monitor the government’s achievement of outcomes

21. Relationship with Local Authorities Moving responsibility from centralised funding to nearly complete autonomy happened rapidly, and at January 2009, was still imperfect On April 1, 2009, a new round of outcome agreements was developed to reflect this concern The challenge remained that councils had still to fulfil statutory duties, whether included in the outcome agreements or not – an example was with interest groups who felt they were being overlooked unless expressly reflected in outcome agreements Further, while reduced ring-fencing increased councils’ flexibility, the third sector has suffered through cuts in targeted funds such as the Community Regeneration Fund More positively, communication has improved between central and local government

22. A skills and capability gap? The new outcomes focus has necessitated new frameworks for performance management Because outcomes involve measuring changes in society, such as reductions in crime, it’s difficult to measure them in both absolute terms and at such an early stage – this necessitated a need for more sophisticated research and information gathering On this front, the Chief Statistician’s Office has committed to working closely with local government There is also a need for improved data sharing methods and protocols between departments to avoid the danger of having unstable systems of performance management

23. Evaluation While early to judge, Scotland’s outcomes focus thus far appears to have yielded positive impacts Clearest picture of this emerges from the Scotland Performs, which maps Scotland’s progress towards its desired national outcomes. Next year ought to provide a richer picture of Scotland’s progress as currently data is still suffering a time-lag Despite a largely positive picture, there are some concerns about the sheer pace and scale of the changes seen in Scottish government over just two years Working with outcomes requires nothing short of a cultural overhaul in government – this may not sit naturally with traditional working culture The Scottish government has deliberately traded certainty of how change will work for speed, scale and opportunity to try new ways of working – untried and untested methods that inspire apprehension in some Sir John Elvidge is keen to ensure that this experiment does not submit to a brand of managerialism and bureaucracy – this change is about fundamentally changing the culture of the civil service, and instilling a core sense of confidence and purpose in it. Ministers and officials see their role at the centre of steering Scotland into the future, not managing or running it. Paradoxically, it is precisely this unnerving sense of liberation that is likely to drive forward this programme of change successfully

24. Key Learning Points Strategy had a clear and visual line of sight ‘Light’ – the strategy had just 5 strategic priorities, linking directly to 15 national outcomes and 45 national indicators, compared to 450 in the last administration Outcomes focused Implemented tangible changes to deliver outcomes focused system – through gov’t restructuring, Spending Review and improved relationships with local authorities, among others Scotland Performs – engaged public in measuring ‘how Scotland is doing’ Energising pace of change – deliberate trade off between certainty and speed, scale and opportunity to try new ways of working

25. Sources This case is based largely on a series of semi structured interviews with the following persons, and we are grateful for their support and assistance Lesley Fraser, former Head, Strategy and Performance Division, Scottish Government David Henderson, Head of Local Government Division (Finance), Scottish Government Sir John Elvidge, Permanent Secretary, Scottish Government Other sources included Alex Salmond, speaking at the launch of the economic strategy on November 13, 2007 The Scottish Government (2008), Single Outcome Agreements, , accessed 7 Jan 2009 John Swinney, 14 Nov 2007, Scotland’s Budget and Spending Review, The Scottish Parliament,, accessed 7 Jan 2009 For a full report on the Scottish government’s outcomes focused approach, see

26. A few more sources cited in slides: Alex Salmond, speaking at the launch of the economic strategy on November 13, 2007 John Swinney, 14 Nov 2007, Scotland’s Budget and Spending Review, The Scottish Parliament,, accessed 7 Jan 2009 The Scottish Government (2008), Single Outcome Agreements, , accessed 7 Jan 2009

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