NWDA scores ‘good’ rating in review

Michael Hunt

The response of the North West Development Agency to the economic downturn has been rated as "strong" following an Independent Supplementary Review, carried out by the National Audit Office on behalf of the Government.

The assessment looked at how effectively the NWDA prioritised programmes and projects that offer high value added benefits for the region during the economic downturn and in preparation for the upturn.

In particular, the assessment praised NWDA for being "proactive and fleet of foot" in reprioritising its work in response to the economic downturn, using "robust economic analysis" to develop and appraise projects and working in a "collegiate and consultative" manner with partners across the region.

In addition, the Independent Supplementary Review looked at two additional questions:

  • How effectively is the NWDA implementing improvement plans
  • How effectively has the NWDA implemented improvements in performance management processes and procedures to reflect the lessons of evaluation

The agency received a score of "Good" for both questions.

The assessment recognised key strengths in these areas including the links between the Agency's corporate plan and staff objectives, the development of a strong project office to support project appraisals and the establishment of "systematic mechanisms" for gathering and responding to stakeholder and staff feedback.

As well as highlighting the NWDA's achievements, the assessment also recognised key areas for improvement for the Agency including improving processes to demonstrate how it responds to feedback from stakeholders and developing evaluation processes.

Steven Broomhead, NWDA chief executive, said: "This assessment is an important piece of the jigsaw to add to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers economic analysis and our Independent Performance Assessment in 2006. This inspection has allowed us to take stock of how well we have responded to the downturn and the progress we have made in our systems.

"It's especially pleasing that the assessment recognises the major achievements of the Agency in the last twelve months and the significant impact that the Agency has had in supporting the North West through the economic downturn.

"Clearly, the next year will be challenging for the Agency and its staff but I am heartened that the achievement of the Agency in supporting the region through such difficult times has been recognised today."

The North West Development Agency, along with the other Regional Development Agencies, are being abolished by the Government.

The Government confirmed in June that RDAs would be replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships. A white paper on Local Enterprise Partnerships and regional governance is due in the coming months.

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