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Annual Report of the Treasury for the Year Ended 30 June 2014

The Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice

The Treasury has a quality standard for policy advice that is applied to all appropriations. The Quality Standards for Policy Advice are published in full on pages 129 and 130 of this Annual Report.

Review of the Quality of the Treasury's Policy Advice 2013/14

As in previous years, a panel of experienced policy leaders within the Treasury was commissioned to review a sample of the Treasury's policy advice for the 2013/14 year. The intent of the review was to assess the quality of a sample of advice against the Treasury's Quality Standards for Policy Advice, identify examples of best practice and identify areas for potential improvement.

The panel was run jointly with SSC, which ensures an external perspective to the assessment of advice.

The panel looked at a representative sample of advice selected using a randomised methodology.

The review found that:

  • the average grade for assessed reports was 7 out of 10; a slight decrease on last year's grade of 7.2. Given the small sample size we cannot determine whether this is of statistical significance, and
  • 70% of reports were graded 7 out of 10 or higher; by contrast to 81% last year.

These results mean we have achieved our target of achieving at least an average of 70% and provide confidence that we are maintaining a satisfactory level of quality and the strengths and weaknesses identified remain consistent with previous annual reviews.

The strengths identified included: a clear logical structure to the papers, with good use of evidence and stakeholder engagement and clear options analysis. The language was plain and easy to understand with a strong focus on customer needs and interests.

The areas for improvement included a greater clarity of purpose in advice and providing succinct background information about the context in which the paper was written.

We are working through these findings with a view to determining any further actions we could take to lift the quality of our policy advice.

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