Can public inquiries lead to change?

Nicola Salmon Verita Consultancy Ltd
Senior consultant

Nicola Salmon

Published 1 June 2018 More about Nicola

Is it money well spent?

With multiple government inquiries underway and millions of pounds spent since the 90s, it is only natural to wonder whether public inquiries are an effective use of time and money. The need for diagnostic tools for organizational change is prevalent now more so than ever.

The primary focus of any inquiry is to reveal what happened, who is responsible and whether can we learn from it. Whilst the first two questions can bring closure and understanding the final point is arguably the most important. Lessons learned are not only a list of recommendations at the end of a report, but provide a route to prevent future problems, supporting institutions to change behaviour, governance or regulations.

Diagnostic tools for organizational change

However, the history of inquests and subsequent failures suggests that the implementation of recommendations is an entirely different exercise to that of carrying out an inquiry. There are no formal processes for the government or other regulators to follow up recommendations made in interim or final reports, which means the positive impact of implementation is too often lost or diluted. This is not to say that inquiries have not delivered change, but it does highlight that more attention should be paid to carrying out the recommendations, rather than managing short-term interest in the headline findings.

Implementing change to prevent failures from repeating themselves should be at the forefront of any investigation or public inquiry. Verita suggests that whatever organisation you are in, reviewing previous relevant recommendations is a valuable way to benchmark how fit for the purpose your current governance is and whether you can protect the future by learning from the past.

With multiple government inquiries underway and millions of pounds spent, are public inquiries an effective use of time and money.


If you would like to learn more about Diagnostic Tools then please contact Nicola Salmon on 020 7494 5670 or [email protected].


For more information on lessons learnt to visit our diagnostics tools here.

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