The Read and Cooksey awards, both named in honour of past Audit Commission chairmen, are presented each year for audit work in local government, criminal justice and the national health service.
The Read Award, given for the most valuable contribution to value for money audit work, was presented jointly to Christopher Cannon and Stephen Martin of the Audit Commission for the development of an improvement toolkit designed to help local authorities raise the educational achievement of children in care.
The toolkit, in the format of a handy CD-ROM, enables local authorities to assess their service performance using ten key lines of enquiry crucial to effective service provision. The CD-ROM will help authorities address the demands for improved services in this particularly challenging area now subject to the Children Act 2004.
Another award winner, Maria Grindley of the Audit Commission, was presented with the Cooksey Award for the most valuable contribution to assurance or financial audit. Her development of an approach to the audit of shared services has become an important focus for auditors' work in the NHS and one that is likely to become increasingly important in local government as it addresses the efficiency agenda.
Mr Strachan said: 'The Read and Cooksey awards recognise innovation in the audit field and its contribution to the challenges facing the public sector. This work takes into account the needs of audited and inspected bodies and the Commission's commitment to Strategic Regulation.'
Christopher Cannon, joint Read Award winner, said: 'I am very pleased that the importance of our work has been recognised. We hope the toolkit will make a real impact on service improvement which is so important for thousands of young people. Raising the educational achievement of children in care remains one of the big challenges for local authorities. The aim of the toolkit is that it will help an authority and its partners to identify what's going well in the provision, but also what needs improving in order to raise the life chances of children in care.'