In this first round of assessments, the NWDA scored 20 points out of a possible 24 which is equivalent to performing strongly. The EEDA scored 15 which is equivalent to performing well.
These assessments are the first two in a series which the government asked the NAO to carry out. Further assessments will cover all eight regional development agencies outside London by March 2007.
Each independent performance assessment examines performance under the themes of ambition, prioritisation, capacity, performance management and achievement. It includes a self-assessment, based on these themes, by the regional development agency.
The NAO reviewed each self-assessment, examined a wide range of documents and conducted intensive on-site work. The on-site work included interviews and focus groups with staff, board members, partners and stakeholders, together with reviews of systems and observations of routine meetings. The aim of this work is to obtain evidence from a broad range of sources to give a rounded picture of performance.
The report found that NWDA is performing strongly on ambition and prioritisation and performing well on capacity, performance management and achievement. EEDA is performing well on ambition and achievement and adequately on prioritisation, capacity and performance management.
Each RDA will use the National Audit Office's assessment report to review the improvement plan that it prepared with its self-assessment. The plan will be forwarded to the NAO within one month of publication of the assessment. The NAO will then consider the extent to which the plan addresses the areas for improvement identified in the assessment report and provide the Agency with advice, after which the Agency will formally adopt the plan.
Progress in implementing the improvement plan will be reported by each RDA in the regular performance reports to its board, which are shared with government and published every six months. The relevant regional government office will support the agency in its continuous improvement.
Each independent performance assessment report gives a mark for each theme and overall. The possible marks are 1 (performing inadequately), 2 (performing adequately), 3 (performing well) or 4 (performing strongly).
The London Development Agency, which is audited by the Audit Commission, is not part of the current exercise.