"SURGERY" FOR MEMBERS
The Members' Advice Centre opened in the Palace
of Westminster in November 2001 to provide a comprehensive
inquiry point for Members in the Palace or Portcullis
House. Initially this service was available for
two half days a week. This has been extended to
two full days a week from April 2002.
The Department has continued to achieve target
turnaround times for handling claims and making
payments, despite experiencing an increase in
workload as a result of the general election and
the implementation of the House's resolutions
for changes to Members' allowances.
A review of the Department, sponsored by the Clerk
of the House, was conducted by a firm of consultants
(PKF) in December, January and February, and involved
talking to senior staff in other departments.
The Department listened to its customers and will
take forward the report recommendations during
The Department now routinely provides the Board
of Management with the quarterly financial reports
required by Braithwaite, and is developing these
further in conjunction with the Office of the
the Business Planning Group the Department has:
House-wide aims and objectives to replace
the department-based model used in the early
stages of resource accounting and budgeting;
an outline of expenditure apportioned to the
aims and objectives; and
further work on the development of a resource
The Department sponsored
further development of the House's HR strategy
and policies. It commissioned two major reviews.
The first, on corporate internal communications,
was carried out over the winter, and its findings
are now being implemented. The second, on childcare
provision, is due to be completed in spring 2002.
RESOURCES (HR) STRATEGY
During the year
the following developments were implemented:
of promotion fields so that permanent staff,
after probation, were eligible to apply for
any vacancy within the House;
and re-issue of the Staff Handbook;
of personnel policies to ensure compliance
with the requirements of the Data Protection
of a review of staff Annual Reports;
* draft of a
new policy on the use of the Internet and e-mail
for consideration in
of procedures for the assessment of performance
during the probationary period.
SAFETY AND WELFARE
There were a number of key milestones during the
assessment and display screen equipment codes
of practice were developed and promulgated;
incident reporting procedures were introduced;
guide to health and safety arrangements for
members and their staff was developed and
comprehensive health and safety training programme
was developed and delivered;
a new pre-employment
screening process was introduced;
liability procedures were introduced to provide
a legal requirement to maintain accurate records
of the supply and servicing of clinical equipment
as well as the chain of supply of drugs from
manufacture to administration; and
emergency medical response arrangements and
equipment were reviewed and upgraded.
SALARIES REVIEW BODY
resolution of the House on 5 July 2001 the Department
new allowances, the Staffing Budget and the
Incidental Expenses Provision, which will
replace the Office Costs Allowance by April
General Services Budget to provide funding
for Members and their staff;
resources for Members with disabilities; and
payments in respect of security precautions
- the central provision
of information technology equipment; and
secretariat to support the Speaker's Panel
on Members' Allowances.
The Department is actively working, both directly
and through the Business Planning Group (BPG),
to increase departmental awareness of resource
accounting concepts, particularly in relation
to management of non-cash costs, following the
successful production of dry-run accounts for
It has assessed
the implications of this in terms of the returns
and information needed from departments, and is
now defining the appropriate systems, and evaluating
the extension of these to resource budgeting.
As part of the
programme to produce audited resource accounts
for 2001-02, the Department will define the requirements
and possible mechanisms for management of non-cash
elements, and agree handling of these with the
Business Planning Group and the Board of Management.
A top down approach has been taken in the identification
of significant corporate risks. Workshops were
run in the summer of 2001 for the Board of Management
and representatives from each department of the
House. The Internal Review Service facilitated
the development of the corporate risk register,
which lists the top ten risks. This was completed
by December 2001 and considered by the Board of
Management in January 2002. Departmental risk
profiles are being prepared and are well advanced.
Stage 2 of the programme is now under way with
the development of early warning indicators and
improved reporting. There is evidence that risk
management is being embedded in the House. Much
has been achieved but there is still a lot to
do over the next two to three years.
WITH THE HOUSE OF LORDS AND DEVOLVED ASSEMBLIES
The Department has continued to liaise with colleagues
in the devolved assemblies. Staff have visited
the Scottish Parliament during the year and staff
of the Welsh Assembly have visited the Department.
GENERAL ELECTION: JUNE 2001
A project plan to handle Members' pay and allowance
issues was devised as soon as the election was
announced and all departing and new Members were
dealt with promptly. Resettlement Grants and winding
up allowances were processed for 100 non-returning
Members. Staff from the Department attended the
new Members' reception area in the Palace of Westminster.
100 new Members were interviewed and provided
with details of their entitlements. The feedback
received from Members on the service was very
TO 7 MILLBANK
The move was completed on time with the minimum
of disruption to day to day business. Teams now
work mostly in open plan areas and this has helped
to foster teamwork and obtain a single Departmental
identity. During the transition period, staff
worked hard to ensure customers continued to get
a top quality service.
A review of procurement for the House involving
the Department of Finance and Administration and
the Department of the Serjeant at Arms took place.
The recommendations of the review have been accepted
and implementation has commenced, with the aim
of building upon the significant gains of recent
years. The objectives of the review were to secure
better value for money and compliance with legislation
and to offer a more cohesive and integrated approach
to procurement across the House.
CHANGE, INCLUDING GETTING IT "RIGHT FIRST TIME,
A review of accounts payable has been completed
and improvements to processes have been implemented.
A review of processes within the Members' claims
and Members' travel sections is currently under
After a competitive tendering exercise, a contract
was awarded to Agresso for a fully integrated
computer system to replace the major financial,
personnel and project management systems in the
Department of Finance and Administration and the
Serjeant's Department. The new system is known
as HAIS (House Administrative Information System).
Implementation is on target for the first phase
(staff payroll/personnel) to go live in June 2002.
Existing practices and processes are being reviewed
as part of the implementation.
Implementation of Penserver
software is on target to enable the production
of pension option statements for members of staff
from May 2002. A new staff pension scheme is being
introduced in October 2002 and staff will have
the option to transfer to the new scheme.
The Department has developed and implemented a
full programme of staff development activities,
at individual, team and organisational level,
following achievement of IiP recognition in 2001.
The Department is leading the House-wide bid for
IiP accreditation, scheduled for early 2003.
The Department launched new training for middle
managers, known as the Active Management Programme
The Department relies heavily on professional
accounting, audit and HR skills, and has now developed
more formal training arrangements. The first cohort
of trainees have benefited from sponsorship for
ongoing professional development activities, and
are subject to regular monitoring and evaluation.
Department ran a pilot Continuing Professional
Development seminar for finance professionals
across the House, and the exercise will be repeated,
following favourable feedback.
AND IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS
The Departmental newsletter ('Update')
and team briefings have been subject to improvement
and re-evaluation. The accommodation in 7 Millbank
supports and fosters an integrated approach to
teamwork and facilitates more
effective communication and teambuilding. A number
of Departmental events and activities have been
MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
Management awaydays have been well received and
managers have benefitted from the associated networking
and team-building activities.
A programme to empower Band A staff and project
manage a range of departmental initiatives has
OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION