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Little benefit from extensive information gathering from municipal social services

Municipalities provide large amounts of information to the system of ‘public performance reports’ in social services. The Swedish National Audit Office (Swedish NAO) notes that only a small part of this information contributes to higher quality, and recommends that the National Board of Health and Welfare review the system.

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Public performance reports in social services are a compilation of different measures to be used by municipalities to monitor and develop the quality of their activities, and form the basis for central government follow-up and governance.

The system consists of approximately 400 indicators, which are mostly built up from information submitted by municipalities through annual questionnaires.

The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that the benefit of the system for improving quality is relatively small. The municipalities use a small proportion of the indicators. The opportunities for comparison provided by the system, and the policy signals sent by central government by asking municipalities questions about quality, do not lead to any significant improvement in their results in public performance reports. Overall, this indicates that the system is not working as well as it is intended.

“Some of the information is used to improve the quality of municipal social services. But this applies only to a small part of the approximately 400 indicators that the municipalities report," says Olof Widmark, project leader for the audit.

The audit also shows that the National Board of Health and Welfare and the Government only use a few of the indicators in public performance reports for regular follow-up. This means that the extensive work of reporting carried out by the municipalities does not serve any clear purpose at national level either.

The Swedish NAO notes that the system of public performance reports needs to be developed in order to contribute to higher quality in the social services in a better way than at present. Especially considering that municipalities also report information to several other surveys.

“The National Board of Health and Welfare should review the indicator set so that only the indicators that are of clear benefit for quality development are included. In addition the municipalities need more support to use the indicators,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.


The Swedish NAO recommends that the National Board of Health and Welfare conduct a critical review of the indicators in public performance reports so that only indicators with clear benefits for municipalities, central government knowledge management or national follow-up are included.

The National Board of Health and Welfare should also improve and adapt support to municipalities to use public performance reports for quality development based on the review of the indicators.

The Swedish NAO recommends that the Government take the initiative to give the National Board of Health and Welfare better opportunities to obtain and manage individual-based statistics.

The Government should also take measures to create a more cohesive system for the indicator-based follow-up of social services.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

Updated: 05 July 2021

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