Select Committee on Public Administration Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary information from Sir Richard Wilson relating to his evidence of 16 June

  When giving evidence to the Select Committee last week as part of its inquiry into the operation of the Government Information and Communication Service, I promised to provide the Committee with further information on the funding arrangements for the Strategic Communications Unit.

  The establishment of the Strategic Communications Unit was announced by the Prime Minister in January 1998. The Unit was formed as a direct result of a recommendation by the Mountfield Review of the Government Information Service about the need to improve strategic communications so that the key Government messages are better communicated across and outside Government.

  The estimated staff costs of the Unit in 1998-99 is £415,000. A further £345,000 has been allocated for the maintenance and development of the strategic planning systems AGENDA (the replacement system for Cab-E-Net). Expenditure on AGENDA in 1999-2000 is expected to be £300,000 (this includes some development costs). For future years, the estimated annual running costs of AGENDA is £200,000. The funding arrangements are under discussion as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

  You also asked about attendance of officials at Cabinet. I understand that it is not unprecedented for the No. 10 Chief Press Secretary to attend as an observer, and that this happened in the latter years of the last Administration.

25 June 1998

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