Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280
WEDNESDAY 23 JANUARY 2002
280. So is OGC covered by this?
(Mr Sykes) The Highways Agency are fully part of the
281. So when you answered the Chairman with
that figure of £335 million, what is the total spend that
is covered? If we are looking for a figure on what you are saving,
we have to see how much you are spending. If the Highways Agency
alone is 1.5, 335 centrally is just a small partit is the
petty cash at head office, by the sound of it.
(Mr Sykes) We will have to come back to you with the
total figure for the department and its agencies.
282. Off the top of your head, is it £10
(Mr Sykes) No.
(Mr Acheson) I can give you some figures. Overall
we are responsible for £56 billion.
283. Of spending?
(Mr Sykes) Yes. The department funnels £56 billion
(Mr Acheson) £37 billion of that is from us to
284. That leaves you 19 to account for. Are
you then responsible for that £19 billion?
(Mr Acheson) No.
(Mr Sykes) It is probably around £3 billion of
expenditure through the DTLRC and its agencies.
285. But the Highways Agency you told us is
£1.5 billion alone. Is that the big spender?
(Mr Sykes) Yes.
286. But the procurement principles go through
(Mr Sykes) Yes.
287. Were you listening when we were speaking
(Mr Sykes) We listened to most of it.
288. I was speaking about the Civil Service
language, and you have delivered a beauty as well. You "generally
welcome" the creation of OGC. What do you mean by "generally"?
That sounds a bit qualified to me. Why the qualification?
(Mr Sykes) We fully welcome the setting up
289. No. If you "fully welcome" me,
you fully welcome me with open arms. If you "generally welcome"
me, there are times when I am not welcome.
(Mr Acheson) That is more meant to mean that perhaps,
in the way the OGC has been going about its business, from where
we sit there could have been some improvements.
290. Tell us.
(Mr Acheson) The key thing that we see where OGC could
improve is in their own internal communication, because we see
some pieces of guidance or whatever coming out from some parts
of OGC that are not necessarily consistent with guidance from
other bits, and in turn that may not be consistent with the policy
and regulatory framework that OGC are also responsible for, so
there are some inconsistencies that still have not been ironed
out yet and sometimes it is left to departments to spot them and
say, "How does this fit?". I think Peter Gershon mentioned
this in his evidencethat there was some way to go in fully
integrating the various OGC guidances.
(Mr Sykes) We have seen the bringing together of a
number of organisations and we see the different culture in the
way that they want to work with us as a department as being very
beneficial, but this is a major change and there is still more
change and improvement to come, and I think we encourage that.
On the point that Mike has mentioned, the inconsistency of guidance,
that is historical because it comes from the constituent parts
of OGC, but I am very positive about the reaction I get from Peter
Gershon when I talk to him about the OGC and his commitment that
the branding of the products that come out of the OGC and the
consistency will have to be improved, but one could not expect
to make that change overnight. I think the progress they have
made to date is very creditable.
291. Are there any times when you found their
advice not sensible and you have raised it with them when they
have been unresponsive?
(Mr Sykes) No.
292. Turning to Gateway, you have said that
the Gateway review process has been a success in your experience.
How many reviews have been undertaken under it?
(Mr Sykes) For the centre of DTLR there are ten Gateway
reviews which have been undertakenone high risk, six medium
risk and three low risk.
293. What are the main lessons that have been
learned from these reviews?
(Mr Sykes) I think making sure that the senior responsible
officers are properly engaged: the need to make sure that all
of the stakeholders are identified: one of the key learning areas
that has come out of a project of which I have been the subject
of a review is the need for rigour in defining the success criteria
and how you are going to get the benefits capture from the business
case which is being set up for a particular project. Those are
all very good learning issues. Sometimes, when you are in the
middle of a project, you can take your eye off the ball and having
somebody independent coming in and saying, "Have you thought
about this or that", is a very beneficial process.
294. Taking those one by one, as the senior
responsible officer, I am surprised that you had to have a thing
called a Gateway review to import that idea into your project?
(Mr Sykes) I do not think the Gateway review process
imported the SRO concept. I think it has highlighted the need
for more effort in ensuring that the SRO is engaged with the project
on an on-going basis.
295. Is it not fairly obvious, if you go and
see the responsible officer, that he should know and be participating
in what he is responsible for?
(Mr Sykes) I think the simple answer would be yes,
it is fairly obvious, but it does not always happen.
296. Taking the next point, you mentioned that
all the stakeholders should be informed. What typically are the
stakeholders in the project you are involved in?
(Mr Sykes) In my particular project, which is the
implementation of electronic procurement within the department,
it is about fully understanding the people who are responsible
for the controls environment in the department, and also understanding
all of the people who are going to have to make the system work.
297. Typically, if you take a projectany
projectthat you have got in mind, who are the stakeholders
in it? I just want to get an impression. This phrase "stakeholder"
means so many things. It is a fairly elastic order.
(Mr Sykes) It is everything from the receiving customer
who is going to get the benefits through to the people providing
the finance and the people providing the environment in which
the project has to work, including external stakeholders in some
298. Who would be the people providing the environment
in which the project is going to work, typically?
(Mr Sykes) The finance community within the organisation
so, within our organisation, for example, we have a structure
of centres of financial excellence where orders and the like are
processed and making sure that those people are comfortable with
the controls that are being put in place is an essential part
of making sure of the success of the project.
299. What about the people who are going to
operate this in the end? Do they get involved?
(Mr Sykes) Yes. Not necessarily all individually but
in some cases we will set up representative groups to make sure
the products we are delivering are what the organisation needs.