THE same concerns arise again and again across Scotland’s public sector, according to a parliamentary report by MSPs on Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee (PAC).

Only “small-scale” changes can be identified over the last eight years as public bodies struggle to adapt to changing demand and a significant cultural shift that not only requires different ways of working but also new lines of accountability.

At the same time, the PAC acknowledges there is rightly a greater focus on involving members of the public, service users and communities in the design, development and delivery of the services that affect them.

The main recurring thematic issues to emerge from the PAC’s scrutiny are:

  • Leadership and workforce challenges.
  • Governance and accountability.
  • Data collection and evaluating outcomes.
  • Managing major IT projects and structural changes.

While members of the PAC recognised that some issues reported by the Auditor General have been down to a specific set of circumstances within public sector organisations, in other cases it was clear that issues being raised have systematic challenges at their root and are not unique to any particular sector, public body or type of project.

Committee members want to see cross-sector, collaborative and long-term solutions, stating: “Quite simply, a siloed approach to these significant challenges will not succeed.”

Committee convener Jenny Marra MSP said: “The Public Audit Committee is in a unique position to provide an overarching perspective on the key issues which are affecting public services across Scotland and the impact that these are having on the way public funds are being spent.

“In this session of Parliament, the committee has looked at 50 reports and we have become increasingly frustrated to see the same issues arise again and again.

“Unless the Scottish Government and other public sector leaders begin to significantly address the problems the same issues will continue to impact public services.”

Today’s report includes a formal call for the Scottish Government to lead a debate across the public sector to address the challenges that have been identified, including active involvement by chief executives from all public bodies.

The committee is organising a series of round-table sessions on each of the key themes it has uncovered.