Councils are wasting money by failing to use information about costs effectively, a report has found.
The Accounts Commission report calls on Scotland's 32 local authorities, which collectively spend almost £40,000 each minute, to apply information on costs to planning services, assessing performance and showing value for money.
It says cost information is an important tool to look back at how budgets have been spent but it can also be used more by councils to make sure current and future needs are met.
John Baillie, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: "The new councillors elected last Thursday have to get up to speed very quickly.
"We hope this report will help them scrutinise policy and get the right information on both quality and cost of services.
"It can be down to simply asking the right questions of officials and sharing information and best practice with other councils.
"This is a big challenge but it can deliver real dividends for councils and their communities."
The report, prepared by Audit Scotland, looked at examples from West Lothian, Edinburgh, North Ayrshire, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and East Ayrshire councils, showing how the active use of cost information has, in some instances, helped to reduce the impact of vandalism at school buildings or improved fostering services.
The report states: "Knowing what things cost is important, but our audit reports often highlight the need for councils to make better use of cost information.
"Best value reports on individual councils, performance audit reports into specific themes and service areas, annual reports to members and our local government overview reports have all concluded that councils are not using cost information effectively."
The report goes on to say better use of cost information is especially important given the current pressures on public spending.
Local government allocation from the Scottish Budget, in real terms, is set to decrease by £350.2m in 2012/13, £328.4m in 2013/14 and by £44.9m in 2014/15.