Mark SayManaging EditorThursday 30 November 2017

NAO applauds Charity Commission digital change

Report says good progress has been made but further efforts are needed to ensure data is usable

Central government’s chief auditor has said the Charity Commission has made decent progress with its digital transformation, but is still running into problems with legacy systems and usable data.

Charity Commission plaque on buildingThe National Audit Office (NAO) has made the observations within a generally positive report on the Commission’s progress, saying that since the previous review of 2015 it has made headway in delivering its strategic plan for 2015-18.

It includes a positive verdict on the digital transformation effort, saying the organisation is making up for a prior underinvestment with a £12 million programme over four financial years, funded from its core budget.

The NAO says the Commission has made the right move in focusing on getting its information in a usable format, rather than just updating its software, and has plans to deliver further improvements.

It has also widened the scope of its transformation programme with an increased focus on digital, for example with staff training and development, and has made progress in developing a risk assessment tool for registered charities. When the latter is complete it should provide for more efficient case management and better management information.

Breaking down silos

The Commission is also developing a risk based approach to its work, having set up a Risk Assessment Unit in December 2016 to break down information silos. But this work is being hindered by legacy systems and the associated data architecture, which are providing barriers to bringing together the information.

Among the NAO’s recommendations is that the Commission makes its information requirements clear to key partners so it can assess risks effectively, and that it should maintain the momentum of transformation, especially in improving its data architecture, IT and risk model.

“Overall, the Commission has almost completed its Transform programme an it is now vital that it keeps up the momentum of change and embeds a culture of continuous improvement,” the report says.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0