Examination of Witness (Questions 40-59)|
THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2003
TURNBULL KCB CVO
40. So he will be well gone if it is not quite
right; you will be here, of course?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) I will be here, yes, and I am
41. It will be nice to see you again. If the
Government does not get these targets, this was something that
you said actually, that you did not want to have great turf wars,
I seem to remember, when you came here you said "The last
thing I want to do is spend the next three years refereeing turf
wars, that would be absolute misery." I agree with you there.
Do you think that the e-Envoy, because of what is happening, is
in the middle of a turf war?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) No. We have a better understanding
now, I think, of the role over the next two or three years, in
respect of some of the things. The responsibility for standards
and infrastructure, there is a continuing UK online campaign,
in a sense, to get the country UK-enthused, and increasingly being
directed to the people that commercial outlets are not reaching.
There is work on a project known as "Delivering the Promise",
otherwise known as "dot p", standardising websites.
The next is the EGDP programme, which is the work in the ten major
areas, which I can come to in a minute. They are working on a
project which they call the "Online Government Store".
Now this is the idea that if you are a student, elderly person,
a traveller or motorist, you can come into electronic space and
then there is something that says, "All the services we offer
for you, irrespective of the department that they are offered
by, can be found in that space." Similarly, they have responsibilities
for the e-Government gateway, which is the process of getting
validation of your identity, which can be used in repeat applications,
so you are not constantly re-identifying yourself to Customs,
the Passport Office, Revenue. They do work on e-Democracy. Finally
there is also some work on security and resilience. So they have
got a very major programme.
42. Can I bring you back to turf wars, because
there are changes in the Delivery Unit, they have gone off to
the Treasury, except for one person.
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Initially, except for one person.
43. I think they would rather have stayed in
the Cabinet Office.
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) No, he has a room over there.
44. He has got two rooms?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes.
45. Ah, he is a dual-roomed person; how very
nice for him. So, coming back to this; yes, that is interesting,
I did not know that, actually, because I thought he was going
to stay at the Cabinet Office but actually he is going between
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes. His principal office will
46. Number 10?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) No; in 1 Horseguards.
47. Right. Coming back to the turf wars, because
it does seem to me there are massive changes within the Cabinet
structure, is this you, are you moving things around, are you
saying, "We want to shift them out to the Treasury,"
or, the e-Envoy, are his staff saying the same?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) They are still at Stockley House.
48. Are they going up or down, what are the
numbers doing, in there?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) The numbers actually are coming
down, but, of the various delivery units, e-Envoy is still the
largest, it still spends a large amount of money. So the idea
of its being massively contracted, there were some reports of
that in The Independent, are wrong; it is the largest of the units,
spending about £14 million next year.
49. I know that other colleagues want to talk
about the funding; but, if that is the case, are there changes
within the Cabinet Office on this, so that you are trying to stop
the turf wars, there were turf wars, are you total supremo?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) I said it would be a nightmare;
well, it has not been a nightmare, because it has been possible
to get a good understanding of what each of these units is there
to do. There were one or two projects which I thought were duplicating
one another, but we have sorted those out. So, by and large, each
of the delivery units has a clear understanding of what it is
doing, and, in some cases, for example, the Prime Minister's efforts
to reduce the bureaucracy which one part of the public sector
inflicts on another, we are running as a joint project between
the Office of Public Service Reform and the Regulatory Impact
Unit. So, far from it being turf wars, actually we have got people
working together. Now this move of the Delivery Unit to the Treasury
is very significant, because when the Delivery Unit was set up,
and I was in the Treasury at the time, the Treasury was very apprehensive
about it, that it would create a parallel set of targets, for
example. Would it create pressures for more spending? Now what
has happened is that when the targets were reset and re-expressed
in SR2002 the Delivery Unit was part of that process, so there
is no difference about the targets and the objectives we are all
working to. They have now agreed a kind of share-out between them,
those PSA's where the Delivery Unit is in the lead and those where
a Treasury expenditure team is in the lead. The idea that the
Chancellor has stolen this off Number 10 is completely wide of
the mark. What we have done is, because the purpose that they
are engaged in coincides, we have come to the conclusion it does
not matter actually where they operate, because they are not in
competition. You locate them where it is most efficient to locate
50. That was not my point; it is interesting
you went down that line, because that was not actually what I
was thinking about. Certainly, you have opened a suspicious vein
in me again now, that they were not stolen. The reason I was trying
to go down this line is that you have sent us another organogram,
which seems to be slightly more streamlined than the last one
we had. You set that up and you are happy that you can deliver
the PSA target system within that, such as the e-Envoy, using
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Yes. The previous one, I think,
was representing that period between the election of 2001 and
the reshuffle of July 2002, when the Deputy Prime Minister's Office
was also inside the Cabinet Office. He has gone now and taken
several of the units that he was responsible for, like the Regional
Co-ordination Unit, the Social Exclusion Unit, and brought them
together in a proper department. Now it is possible to define
fairly clearly what are the purposes of the Cabinet Office, and,
by and large, we do not have any units in it that do not serve
one or other of those purposes, which is why now it is possible
to draw a reasonably accurate, clear organogram. Also, we have
two ministers, we have got a reasonable understanding of those
subjects which report through to Gus Macdonald, and you are seeing
him next week, those which go to Douglas Alexander, and those
which go directly through to the Prime Minister.
51. When we had Michael Heseltine here, a long
time ago, he said, "Cabinet Office, it's a bran tub,"
he said, "always was, always will be." You have sorted
out the bran tub, and now you have given some clarity?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) I have made it a lot clearer.
I would not say I have sorted it out absolutely, but it is a lot
clearer than it has been for a long time.
52. Your target we talked about, which is the
e-Government target, seems to me to be a classic example of where
you needed to set a target to galvanise change, but actually then
to take that change through to delivery the target gets in the
way. And how do you deal with that issue, because, if you are
going to achieve the target, the temptation is to put everything
just as a web page, but actually to achieve delivery you have
got to re-engineer the management processes that pull behind it;
so how do you deal with that actually?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) By adjusting, or refining, developing
the target, that was what we did in 2002.
53. The charge will be, you have missed the
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) What we did was leave the existing
target, which is based on availability, in place and then add
this second part to it, I cannot remember the exact words, about
increasing usage in the major services. So both of those are now
running; and as we get to more or less universal coverage the
emphasis will switch to the usage that takes place in the major
service areas; and it seems to me quite a sensible way. We would
be accused of a lack of transparency, or dodging our accountability,
if we dropped one completely and just switched over to the other;
what we are doing is running them in dual harness. And then I
can see a time when the emphasis will switch, as you get to achieve
universal coverage. Then you put all your effort into driving
54. That is a much more difficult thing to get
across, of course, but I am interested in some statistics that
came out at the end of last year, which were saying that fewer
than 3% of the population regularly use government websites to
access public services, and in their sample not a single person
over 65 or from social groups D and E said they used the Internet
regularly to access government services. So what are you doing
about tackling who uses it, as opposed to the availability of
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) I do not know about the particular
figures, but we accept the view that the usage of government services
is lagging behind the use of the Internet in commercial life.
That was the theme of the Prime Minister's e-Summit, so basically
we are accepting that as a problem. There are two ways of dealing
with it, and one is, you have to make the services that are available
easily available and accessible, and that is this process of trying
to group them in a series of clusters, so if you are elderly there
is a website that brings together the information you need, whether
they are coming from DWP about benefits, or health, or help with
transport, or whatever. But also effort is needed to identify
the groups where access is low, and that is where you target your
campaigning effort. So the next UK online campaign will be not
simply a global thing, appealing to everyone. Large numbers of
people in the last four or five years have gone onto the Internet
and are moving steadily over to broadband, you need to work steadily
with inner-city areas, the elderly, whatever, and that is recognised
increasingly in the way that campaign is being structured.
55. You mentioned earlier the key role of the
PSAs and it has had a limited effect in achieving the kind of
cultural change that you are looking for.
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Did you say a limited change?
56. In my view, it has had a limited effect,
it has had a significant benefit but it has not yet achieved that
fundamental cultural change. Is not the problem that while we
still allocate money to a departmental silo we will not get that
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Amongst some of this, it includes
people in the Civil Service and its agencies, police commanders,
headteachers, I think there is increasing buy-in to the idea that
there are certain objectives and they work towards them. So, setting
out this idea of a kind of J-curve of the move from disbelief
or apathy through to full commitment, I think we have moved quite
a long way through that process.
57. But do you accept there is still a long
way to go actually to getting the money related either to a particular
project or to a particular outcome, that money is still related
to an input?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) Increasingly, targets are specified
in terms of outcomes, there are far fewer targets in terms of,
"We will set up this body," or "We will increase
the number of teachers," or "We will spend this amount
of money," through to "We want to improve coronary heart
disease, cancer outcomes, hospital waiting times," and so
58. I have got a couple of questions on the
Ombudsman, which related to Ann Abraham from last week. One is
that the Government promised the reform of the ombudsman system
as a whole, through Collcutt, and very politely turned down my
request to assist you, through a Private Member's Bill. Where
is the Cabinet Office in terms of coming forward with the reform
of the ombudsman system?
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) I do not know, actually; really
I am waiting for the report. This is a subject that is on my "to
do" list, rather than that I am actually right on the case
at this moment.
59. One of the other things that has come to
the fore recently is that, now that the taboo has been broken
that ministers do not actually reject an ombudsman's finding,
that they always accept it, it seems to be that more and more
ministers now seem to challenge the ombudsman's findings; is that
(Sir Andrew Turnbull) I am not sure that there has
been a taboo. I seem to remember a case in the Department of Transport
about compensation. I do not think this is the first time that
a recommendation has been rejected. I would be surprised.