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Dire data management

In response to "Audit uncovers pound;2.6m in overpaid funding" (11 March), having spent many years scrutinising data at colleges across the country our experience strongly supports the comments made in this article.

While it is true that colleges have generally improved over the years since incorporation, many remain woefully inadequate in respect of their data management practices. In fact, some have actually gone backwards in recent years due to the relaxation of certain audit regimes.

The reasons for this vary from colleges not understanding the funding guidance and the funding guidance itself being overly complicated, to staff having little available time for data validation.

In addition, while it is certainly correct that there is inconsistent use of DSAT (the Data Self-Assessment Toolkit), such tools only go so far in providing the confidence that data and funding claims are correct. Good colleges go further, incorporating additional data checks either through bespoke developments or through packages like SCORE and ADaM. Simplification of funding and data requirements would of course be welcomed but, until then, colleges must endeavour to go that extra yard and at the very least work smarter.

Ed Drake, Drake Lane Associates, North Yorkshire.

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