Audit Commission head promises ‘lighter touch’ in regulating the public sector

The chairperson of the Audit Commission has pledged that the
government spending watchdog will exercise a “lighter touch” in
public sector regulation.

James Strachan said that the commission needed to change the way it
worked with other regulators, auditors and inspection bodies and
avoid duplication.

Relationships with those being inspected also needed to change to
avoid the extremes of being too harsh or too friendly. He said that
he would have failed personally if the commission did not succeed
in making regulation more efficient.

He said there were some good regulators, auditors and inspectors,
but some were still acting in the “old-style way”. “The real test
of all these [regulatory] initiatives is whether the person using
the services has been well served and, over time, better served,”
he said.

Strachan questioned whether regulatory resources had been used
effectively in inspecting everyone every year, regardless of their
performance. “Any businessman would say that’s a lousy use of
money,” he said.

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