Much of our work involves carrying out practical, applied research, which we publish in order to help to improve accountability and governance in the public sector and provide support to those seeking to improve their practice. This work is principally supported by way of funding from:
• the Local Government Association (to provide support, advice and guidance to councillors sitting on local authority overview and scrutiny committees and the officers who support them), and;
• the Department of Health (to carry out work relating to accountability in the National Health Service, about which more information can be found in our health programme pages).
Recent research and publications
Some of our most popular recent publications include:
- "Accountability Works", a piece of research published in 2010 which kicked off a broader campaign around the values of accountability, transparency and inclusion in modern democracy;
- "Musical chairs", research on local authorities considering the adoption of a committee system of governance;
- "Peeling the Onion", the culmination of detailed research on the use of local government accountability structures to tackle health inequalities;
- A series of publications looking at the new powers of scrutiny for tenants of social housing (tenant scrutiny);
- Our series of policy briefings - including ones on the future of local public audit, joint working arrangements between councils in England and Wales, and welfare reform;
- A range of skills briefings, providing advice to councillors on questioning skills, chairing and leadership, running a scrutiny review and working with partners;
- A range of publications targeted at enhancing the effectiveness and impact of local accountability, including, "Counting the cost, measuring the value", a piece of research examining how accountability can help to make services better value for money, and "Tipping the scales", research providing a model allowing overview and scrutiny to measure the return on investment of its work.
A full list of all our publications can be found on our publications page (we make a charge for a very small number of them).
- More research as part of our Policy Briefings series, including publications on transport, local economic development and emergency planning;
- The third phase of our health inequalities programme, focusing on how overview and scrutiny can assist in improving the health outcomes of some of the most vulnerable people in society;
- A wide-ranging piece of research on transparency, focusing in particular on the publication of data about public services;
- A piece of research on accountability in academies and free schools.
Help we can provide
We also provide direct consultancy services, both from our own staff and a team of "expert advisers" who we manage. If you need support, training, coaching, development or other improvement support services, we are here to help.
We curate an online discussion forum mostly used by local government overview and scrutiny practitioners but open to anyone interested in the subject, and also host a library of reviews carried out by local government overview and scrutiny committees and task groups.
The LGA funds us to provide a "helpdesk" function for those working in overview and scrutiny in local government, through which we can provide advice, guidance and information to those who need it. You can access the helpdesk on 020 7187 7362, which is also the number you should use for any general enquiries, or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.