NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED. Suffolk County Council DATA QUALITY POLICY

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1 Suffolk County Council DATA QUALITY POLICY This policy is sponsored by the Director of Resource Management on behalf of the Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council. Responsibility for maintaining, reviewing and updating this policy is delegated to the Head of Business Development Specialist Support Function. It was adopted by the Corporate Management Board in January 2009 and is reviewed every three years or as required to maintain compliance and relevance. Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 1 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

2 Suffolk County Council CONTENTS Page Outline and Scope our commitment' 3 Defining quality 4 Roles & responsibilities; governance & leadership 4 Staff training, awareness and appraisal 5 Reviewing data quality 6 Documentation and sharing best practice 6 Third party data 6 Non-compliance 6 Legislation 7 Policy review 7 For data quality to be regarded as being effective, any data collected and used for business or performance management must be fit for purpose in that it is: Accurate Valid Reliable Timely Relevant Complete Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 2 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

3 1 Outline and scope 1.1 This policy sets out Suffolk County Council s approach to achieving better service delivery through improving the quality of our data. Through implementation of this policy we will support staff to be more aware of their role and responsibility for improving the quality of data we handle, to make better decisions that affect the outcomes of people in the community of Suffolk. We will provide effective training and ensure that our systems support and reflect activity. 1.2 This policy covers data used for service management and monitoring performance across all areas of Suffolk County Council and Customer Services Direct. It includes data shared with partners, confirmed through Data Sharing Agreements. 1.3 This document does not encompass: IT security Data security Records management 1.4 Consistent, high quality, timely and comprehensive information is vital for good decision making, improved service outcomes and robust public accountability. Good data quality is a fundamental element of: Supporting the Council s improvement and resource planning Monitoring the delivery of effective, efficient and economic services Aiding the identification of areas for improvement Effectively communicating our priorities and performance Providing information about user satisfaction and demand for services 1.5 External bodies increasingly assess our performance through the information and data we provide, often as an alternative to inspection, placing an even greater emphasis on data quality. In particular, our external auditors annual review of checking calculations and systems is evolving into a more challenging and demanding in-depth scrutiny. 1.6 This policy outlines the principles, responsibilities and reporting structures to be able to maintain a high standard of data quality - from the establishment of Performance measures and their definition, via the collection and input of individual pieces of data into a system, to the production of performance management information for validation by an external auditor to ensure robust and accurate performance reporting. 1.7 This policy is a framework of management arrangements to ensure the quality of the data the Council uses to manage and report on its activities. This policy is primarily concerned with the care of structured data in key databases and line-ofbusiness applications. 1.8 Having an effective system of control enables us to deliver a better understanding of the organisation and business environment, allowing it to increase value for money, improve service delivery and minimise inefficiencies. Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 3 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

4 2 Defining quality 2.1 For the purposes of this policy; quality is defined as fitness for purpose and a degree or level of excellence; while data is defined as facts or information to be used as a basis for discussing or deciding something, or prepared for being processed by a computer etc. 3 Roles and responsibilities; governance and leadership 3.1 Everyone has a responsibility for data quality. Ensuring that we have good quality data in our operational systems is fundamentally a responsibility of people working at the front line, as they are the people who are able to influence the accurate recording of prime data relating to service delivery. 3.2 There are key roles that exist with regard to managing and improving data quality at Suffolk County Council; these include: Overall the Leader, supported by the Chief Executive, has responsibility for performance management, including data quality, within Suffolk County Council. Each Cabinet Member also has responsibility for particular services or Portfolio. Corporate Data Quality Champion: the Director for Resource Management. takes a strategic lead for improving data quality within the authority, ensuring compliance but more importantly to promote and raise its profile. The Head of Business Development has day-to-day responsibility for implementing the Policy and improving data quality across the organisation. Corporate Directors are accountable for ensuring high levels of data quality within their own area. Business Development is responsible for collating, monitoring and reporting to the Corporate Management Board, Cabinet and relevant Scrutiny Committees all National, Corporate, Partnership and selected local indicators, along with other relevant performance information. Business Development is also responsible for onward reporting to central government agencies in order to fulfil statutory requirements. Business Development specialists are responsible for assuring data quality, collating statutory and local indicators and for onward reporting to the Service Office Senior Management Teams, Partners, and other stakeholders as appropriate. Heads of Service and senior managers, through individual target leads, are responsible for ensuring data quality in their specific services as well as cross cutting areas. Scrutiny Committees provide an impartial review of data quality as do Audit Services as part of their risk based approach to auditing activity and outcomes. Designated owners of performance indicators are identified through the Performance database, SCI-Views. Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 4 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

5 4 Staff training, awareness and appraisal 4.1 Staff responsibility is communicated through a Corporate Induction and regular communication streams incorporating bulletins and briefings, online messages and the management process. 4.2 Key members of Business Development will undergo regular training and briefing to ensure they are conversant with standards surrounding national indicators and any revisions. 4.3 Staff within Service Offices who have a direct responsibility for data production will also be trained and briefed as appropriate. 4.4 All new staff joining the authority will participate in corporate induction where data quality responsibilities are covered. 4.5 SCC and CSD provides training through corporate and directorate training programmes which include: o o o o Data protection Freedom of Information Performance Management Corporate and Service data management or reporting systems 4.6 Where dedicated systems are being used, software suppliers and in house specialists provide specific training. Support for people with specific user needs is addressed through ongoing Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment, Access to Work policy, 1:1 review and Performance Development Review (PDR). 4.7 Training needs for data quality should be identified through regular staff line management meetings and PDR, but should also be raised on an ad hoc basis as need arises. 4.8 Annually each Service will review its training requirements, skills and capacity through the service planning processes. This is appropriately supported by workshops, staff survey results, feedback from Users, Officers, Members and Partners as well as internal or external review. 4.9 Any weaknesses identified in internal or external reviews of data quality are addressed through the training programme or briefing sessions. 5 Reviewing data quality 5.1 Each Directorate will appoint an Assistant Director (or equivalent) to act as Champion, their role being to coordinate and monitor data improvement activity within their Directorate. The Champion will liaise with the Business Development Team to enable us to monitor key data issues and keep CMB informed of significant issues. 5.2 Business Development will initiate independent system and data quality checks to support the work of operational staff, maintaining a focus on the higher purpose of data quality; which is to ensure that the organisation is in a position to make robust and reliable decision-making. The T&P manager responsible for data quality will collate periodic reports to CMB, including a year-end summary, highlighting key issues and action. Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 5 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

6 5.2 Audit Services will carry out selective reviews to validate the robustness of service areas and our processes, to assure continuous improvement. Reports from these, and from external reviews, will contribute to an evolving corporate improvement plan, which Business Development will maintain; with periodic briefings to CMB. 6 Documentation and sharing best practice 6.1 Data quality information, guidance and documentation; including links to other useful websites are on the Business Development intranet pages and our external website to facilitate sharing best practice. 6.2 Our policy is underpinned by a range of key documents; including our Corporate Improvement Plan; and items identified in our Corporate Risk Register. These are accessible online. 7 Third party data 7.1 This policy applies to SCC and CSD staff. We expect that the quality of data produced by external third parties will be to an agreed standard. For external contractors this will be specified in the relevant data monitoring schedule for each contract. Individual buyers are to ensure that data they provide meets the standard outlined in the monitoring schedule. Similar arrangements will apply with Partners. 8 Non-compliance 8.1 Attention is drawn to our Acceptable Use of ICT & Electronic Information Policy, which is available online via our Intranet and explains fully the individual responsibilities for all staff who use data systems. 8.2 SCC and CSD will ensure that appropriate training and support is available to all staff in order that they may be fully competent in managing and handling data. However any consistent or repeated breach of this Policy may lead to appropriate action being taken against those who commit the breach, including disciplinary procedures. 8.3 Instances of failure to comply with this policy, or poor performance against data quality arrangements will be investigated and corrective action taken by relevant managers. 8.4 Anyone who has knowledge of such a violation must report it to their line manager or Head of Service. Alternatively contact the Performance Improvement team. 8.5 Violations of this Policy will include: Consistent disregard to data improvement Disclosure of confidential information to unauthorised sources Unauthorised use of County Council data and/or sending defamatory information Creating, processing or use of any data known to be inaccurate, misleading or invalid; particularly in liaison with external agencies or the public Accessing, creating, processing or use of any data by unauthorised users Use of data for illicit or illegal purposes, which may include violation of any law, regulation, or any reporting requirement of any law enforcement of Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 6 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

7 government agency Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 7 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

8 9 Legislation 9.1 This policy should be read in conjunction with our Freedom of Information & Records Management Policy, our Acceptable Use of ICT & Electronic Information Policy, and the Audit Commission publications Standards for Better Quality Data (Nov 2007) and Is there something I should know? (Jul 2009) 9.2 The County Council and its Policies will comply with all relevant legislation affecting the creation and processing of data. This includes but is not limited to: The Data Protection Act 1998 The Freedom of Information Act 2000 The Human Rights Act 1998 The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 The Computer Misuse Act 1990 Legislation covered by the SCC Equalities Policy 10 Policy review 10.1 The Head of Business Development SSF will ensure review of this Policy at least every three years or on completion of a significant change in the organisation. The review will ensure that it remains fit for purpose and that lessons learnt are enacted in any revision The Director of Resource Management will approve any amendments prior to publication. Date printed: 01 March 2011 Page 8 of 8 Reviewed: March 2010

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