The National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) is the national independent oversight body for the local government sector in Ireland. It was established in July 2014 under the Local Government Reform Act 2014 to provide independent oversight of the local government sector (local authorities and associated bodies), including Regional Assemblies.
Further details about NOAC and its Strategy for the period 2020 to 2022 can be viewed here.
NOAC’s functions are wide ranging, covering all local authority activities and involving the scrutiny of performance generally and financial performance specifically. NOAC also has a role in supporting best practice, overseeing implementation of national local government policy and monitoring and evaluating implementation of corporate plans, adherence to service level agreements and public service reform by local government bodies. A Government Minister may also request that NOAC prepare a report relevant to its functions on any specified aspect of local government.
The National Oversight & Audit Commission is a statutory body established by Ministerial order under section 126B of the Local Government Act 2014, to oversee the local government sector.
The NOAC’s statutory functions are wide, and specifically the Commission is required to:
- Scrutinise performance of any local government body against relevant indicators as selected by NOAC (to include customer service) or as prescribed in Ministerial regulations;
- Scrutinise financial performance, including Value for Money, of any local government body in respect of its financial resources;
- Support best practice (development and enhancement) in the performance of their functions by local government bodies;
- Monitor and evaluate adherence to Service Level Agreements entered into by any local government body;
- Oversee how national local government policy is implemented by local government bodies;
- Monitor and evaluate public service reform implementation by any local government body or generally;
- Monitor adequacy of corporate plans prepared by Regional Assemblies and councils and evaluate implementation of the plans by any local government body or generally;
- Take steps under its other functions for the purpose of producing any report requested under the Act as well as produce reports under its own initiative; and
- Carry out any additional functions conferred by Ministerial order.
Approach and Objectives of NOAC
In implementing its mandate NOAC aims to:
- Be established in its role and have forged a working relationship with its stakeholders, including the D/HPLG, the Chief Executives and elected members of the local authorities.
- Conduct evidence based scrutiny that delivers quality, objective, balanced and relevant reports, which will afford the local government sector the opportunity to improve its performance, enhance the existing culture of continuous improvement and embed best practice within the system as a whole.
- Add value to the local government sector and provide recommendations to build on the efficiencies and savings delivered by the sector to date, with a focus on customer service and cost effectiveness
- Establish a collaborative approach with the relevant bodies and agencies at the heart of NOAC’s work.
- Identify and focus upon those aspects of local authority functions and activities that are important to the citizen/customer.
- Facilitate engagement around improved performance, and
- Monitor the adequacy of local authority corporate plans and assess how well these are being implemented.
Key activities of NOAC include Performance Indicators, Corporate Plans, Public Spending Code and the Scrutiny Programme/Profile Meetings.
The majority of NOAC’s work is carried out by a number of working-groups, set up to focus on particular areas and to further various projects. These are:
• LG Governance, Efficiency and Reform;
• Performance Indicators;
• Communications and Customer Survey;
• Financial Management and Performance.
Other work of NOAC is carried out directly by the Chair.
NOAC’s secretariat and ancillary services are provided by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. NOAC’s operations are, however, independent, as required by legislation.