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Government consultations are too short and implementation too slow, National Audit Office says

The proportion of central government consultations running for less than 12 weeks more than doubled between 2011 and 2013, according to a report from the National Audit Office.

The spending watchdog’s report on central government’s implementation of the Compact, published yesterday, says that government departments have been slow to implement recommendations the NAO made in report published in January 2012, despite an apparent lack of widespread barriers.

The report says that that 40 per cent of consultations run by nine government departments in 2011 ran for less than 12 weeks – the ideal length of time suggested in the Compact – but this proportion rose to 76 per cent in the period between July and December 2012, and to 81 per cent in the period from December 2012 to May 2013.

This was after the Cabinet Office published new consultation principles in July 2012 that said consultations of less than 12 weeks could be appropriate in some cases where meaningful engagement had already taken place with relevant parties.

The 2012 report said that departments needed to improve their implementation of the Compact, the voluntary agreement that sets out how public bodies and voluntary sector organisations should treat each other, and that there was more the Cabinet Office should do in its oversight of it.


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