60. Defence Agencies are set targets each year and
the performance of the Defence Agencies against their targets,
for 2003-04 and 2004-05, are set out in a table in the Annual
Report and Accounts.
Overall, the performance has been very mixed and inconsistent
over time. For example, the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency
met 100 per cent of its targets in 2004-05, but only 33 per cent
of its targets in 2003-04. The RAF Training Group Defence Agency
met only 33 per cent of its targets in 2004-05, but 71 per cent
of its targets in 2003-04.
61. The number of targets each Defence Agency is
set varies greatly. For example, in 2004-05, the Defence Vetting
Agency had 12 targets and the Medical Supplies Agency had four
targets. For some agencies the number of targets had reduced since
2003-04. For example, the British Forces Post Office were set
11 targets in 2003-04 and only six targets in 2004-05. But for
others the number of targets had increased. For example, Service
Children's Education were set 16 targets in 2003-04 and 29 in
62. We asked MoD about the variation in performance
and the number of targets set. Mr Jeffrey admitted that it was
quite hard to assess whether the performance of Defence Agencies
overall was improving and he was struck "by the sheer variety
of purposes and the extent to which there is a variety in performance".
The overall percentage of key targets met had increased from 72
per cent in 2003-04 to 78 per cent in 2004-05.
However, he accepted that there was a wide variety among the agencies.
63. MoD's second memorandum notes that all those
involved in the process of drawing up key targets for Defence
Agencies are expected to draw on identified best practice. In
terms of the number of targets, Defence Agencies typically have
between five and ten key targets, but the precise number varies
depending upon the size and complexity of the agency and the challenges
it faces in a particular year. MoD:
recognise that in judging performance it is preferable
to have a run of comparable data over a number of years. However,
a balance needs to be struck between continuity and the need to
improve and amend targets to reflect new or evolving priorities.
Mr Jeffrey told us he was prepared to look at the
way in which key targets for Defence Agencies were set and at
whether there was a better way of measuring their performance.
64. We found it difficult to judge the performance
of the Defence Agencies, as set out in the Annual Report and Accounts,
as both their achievements against the targets set, and the number
of targets set, vary considerably from year to year. We look to
MoD to ensure that in the future, changes are made to the reporting
of the performance of Defence Agencies, so that it is easier to
assess whether their performance is improving.
65. We have taken a close interest in the work of
Defence Agencies. In our Future Carrier and Joint Combat Aircraft
Programmes report we examined the Defence Procurement Agency's
role in acquiring these two equipment programmes.
In our Delivering Front Line Capability to the RAF report
we examined the impact on the Defence Aviation and Repair Agency
(DARA) of the decision to concentrate on-aircraft support of the
Tornado GR4 'forward' at RAF Marham.
We are also currently undertaking an inquiry into the Met Office
and, as part of our Educating Service Children inquiry, we will
examine the Service Children's Education agency.