Setting out the 2011-12 budget in parliament last year, Swinney said public bodies would be required to report publicly on their plans for efficiency savings, and made no mention of scrapping the efficiency outturn report.
John McLaren, economist at the Centre for Public Policy for Regions at Glasgow University, said: “It’s a bizarre thing to do, especially when [ministers] are being asked by other political parties to get Audit Scotland to audit these efficiency savings. It’s going in the wrong way.”
MSP Richard Baker, Labour’s finance spokesman, said: “Instead of more transparency we are getting the exact opposite. The government was challenged by the auditor general over whether efficiencies were genuine or cuts. This opens them up to the accusation they are trying to cover up cuts.”
Gavin Brown, for the Tories, added: “The government should be going in the opposite direction and getting audit Scotland to verify the figures, particularly as efficiency savings are more important now than a few years ago.
A Scottish Government spokesman refused to say when or why the decision to end the Efficiency Outturn report was made.
He said: “Mr Swinney announced [in 2010] we had changed emphasis from a process-focused, centrally-managed programme to one which allows public bodies themselves to demonstrate how they have used efficiencies to provide quality services and improve outcomes.”