2 background and context
2.1 The main background and context for the review relates to the Scottish Strategy for Autism, and the arrangements for its implementation, as set out below.
Scottish Strategy for Autism
2.2 The Scottish Strategy for Autism ('the strategy') - announced in November 2011 - set out an agenda for improving the lives of people with autism and their carers. The 10-year strategy was developed by the Scottish Government working in partnership with COSLA. The strategy set out goals in relation to a range of areas including: the development of local autism strategies and plans; the improvement of data collection to inform service planning; the creation of multi-agency care pathways for assessment, diagnosis and intervention; the embedding of processes to seek stakeholder feedback on the quality of care; specialised support for life transitions including into employment; and the removal of barriers for people with autism.
2.3 Progress on the implementation of the strategy is overseen by a Governance Group (until May 2014, the ASD Reference Group). The Governance Group oversees the delivery of the strategy's priorities and (26) recommendations, and provides a structure for governance and accountability. The Governance Group consists of service users, carers, local and central government representatives, voluntary organisations, NHS staff, and academics.
Establishment of Autism Network Scotland
2.5 Recommendation 15 of the Scottish Strategy for Autism stated that, 'It is recommended that existing reports on the work of Scottish Autism Services Network are formally evaluated with a view to assessing its long-term viability and effectiveness'. This recommendation was linked to three others (Recommendations 16, 17, and 18) which addressed a theme in the strategy about developing the capacity for cross-agency working through stronger networks, best practice and training which would bring about cost effective support and interventions.
2.6 In recognition of this recommendation, Autism Network Scotland ( ANS) was established in 2012 as one of the implementation vehicles for the strategy. Previous versions of the network had been in existence since 2004. 
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