House of Commons Commission Report

Annex 5: The Braithwaite Report (1999)

The House of Commons Commission invited Mr Michael Braithwaite to undertake a review of the system of management and decision-making responsibilities for services to the House which was set up following the inquiry in 1990 by Sir Robin Ibbs. The Braithwaite report was published in July 1999. The table below includes a commentary on the expected benefit and current status of each of his recommendations.

A team of consultants led by Mr Michael Braithwaite carried out a further review (Braithwaite 2) between February and July 2000 of the role and structure of the Parliamentary Works Directorate and its relationship with the other operations of the Serjeant at Arms Department, which is discussed in Chapter 4 of this report..
The House of Commons Commission
The Commission should remain the overall supervisory and policy-making body supported by the Finance and Services Committee and Board of Management. Commissioners should, as at present, have real and extensive knowledge of the House 15.2 and 15.3Effective exercise of leadership and authority (without an unrealistic increase in volume of business or frequency of meetings) No change required.
Items must be thoroughly prepared for Commission consideration; there should be tough notice periods, and consistent filtering of less important business 15.4A strategic role for the Commission with delegation of subordinate business for more effective discharge of business Tough notice periods are enforced; papers are properly prepared; occasionally unplanned business is put on the agenda by Members at the last moment.
Authority to approve variations to plans and estimates should be delegated to the Finance and Services Committee, or to the Clerk, on a case-by-case basis 15.4Effective delegation This is usually done.
Valid costed options should be provided where possible 15.4Better quality of investment appraisals offering real choices

Value for money

Guidance on business cases and approval limits has been consolidated and strengthened in the Resource Framework introduced in 2005. Further work is required to ensure that business cases conform to best practice in all parts of the House Service. The approach to business cases is due to be revised in summer 2007. The Resource Framework is also due to be updated in 2007. Face-to-face training on preparation of business cases was delivered in spring 2007.
The Commission should agree a longer-term programme of meeting dates to encourage more orderly preparation of business 15.4Better planning of high level business / effective leadership Future meeting dates are set well in advance.
The Secretary to the Commission should retain his present role, and be supported by the Office of the Clerk 15.5Improved support for the Commission at official as well as political (Finance and Services Committee) level No change in the Secretary's role required.
The Commission should approve a strategic plan, covering overall policies for the provision of services, long-term resource priorities, development priorities, approach to House-wide issues, the extent to which elastic demand should be met, and response to factors outside the control of the House administration. This should be in place for the next Parliament, and should be updated annually in the context of the 4-year review of financial plans 12.8 and 15.7 to 15.10Better management and delivery of services, based on the establishment of agreed high level priorities and allocation of resources accordingly, rather than an incremental approach based on previous decisions An outline strategic plan was agreed by the Commission in 2001 setting out the values and purpose of the House administration; its tasks and priorities; and the financial strategy for the period. The Board of Management implemented the strategy via more detailed annual corporate business plans (originally 'plans of work'). The 2001 Strategy was subsequently reviewed by the Board, which considered that it had "provided a valuable framework within which the Board of Management has been able to operate and plan". The Commission agreed a new plan in 2005 to cover the period 2006-2011.
Better and more comprehensive information on the likely effects of changes in the level and pattern of use of the Office Cost Allowance will be needed to inform strategic judgements both by the Commission and the Board of Management 12.16Improved information on important expenditure trends on bids from the Administration Vote will enable consequent demands for services to be better planned and met OCA no longer exists but proposed changes to other allowances are costed, and consequences assessed by MEC.
The Commission should have a high-level version of the Board of Management monthly report 15.11 (see also 5.46)Improved information to aid strategic direction and supervision Although moves towards this were made in 2001, these have been discontinued.
Commission decisions should be communicated more fully to interested parties 15.14More effective implementation by the Administration and greater awareness by Members Decisions are distributed to key officials quickly and published on internet.
The Commission's Annual Report should reflect improvements in financial and other information, and should set out the main elements of the strategic plan 15.15Improved communication and information for staff, customers and stakeholders The Commission Annual Report (CAR) is now set out on a thematic not Departmental basis, according to the objectives and tasks in the strategic plan.

Unaudited financial information is included in the CAR. The aim for 2007 is to publish the 2006/07 CAR at the same time as the resource accounts (but not as one document). Faster closing of the accounts means that this should be achieved: in 2006 the two were published only two weeks apart.

The Finance and Services Committee (F&S)
F&S should be smaller, and act as an Executive Committee of the Commission 15.18Improved policy direction. A more focused Committee working more closely with the Commission on expenditure and services This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
It should have 7 members: 2 Commissioners, the Government and Opposition Deputy Chief Whips, and 3 back-benchers, with a quorum of 3. It will be for consideration whether the nomination Motion should be made on behalf of the Commission 15.19Improved policy direction. A more focused Committee working more closely with the Commission on expenditure and services This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
F&S's Orders of Reference should be simplified, and include the possibility of directions from the Commission (15.20). It should act in an exclusively deliberative role but continue to have all the normal powers of a Select Committee 15.26As above This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
It should monitor progress towards performance targets 15.27As above This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
It should have the monthly high-level report prepared for the Commission, expanded as necessary 15.27As above This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
F&S and the Board of Management should meet jointly from time to time 15.21 and 13.51A working relationship akin to executive (Board of Management) and non-executive (Finance and Services) directors This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000. Nevertheless the Board has held joint meetings with F&S, most recently in December 2005.
F&S minutes should go to the Commission, the Board of Management and to other managers and budget holders as necessary 15.29Transparency

Joined-up governance

This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
The Chairman of F&S should play a wider role, but without formal executive powers. The possibility of a salary attaching to this post should be considered by the Review Body on Senior Salaries 15.23 to 15.25Advice and support to the Speaker

Advice and guidance to the House Service in responding to suggestions and complaints from Members

Close liaison with the Domestic Committees

This recommendation was drawn to the attention of the SSRB, but was not covered by the Review Board's current remit. However, the post has attracted an additional salary following a resolution of the House on 13 July 2005.
The Secretary to the Commission should continue to be Clerk of F&S 15.30Close relations between Commission and Finance and Services Committee

Joined-up governance

No change required.
Domestic Committees
The domestic committees should be retained as select committees 15 33representing views of the House, including on 'political issues'; direct involvement of members in advising on service provision The House decided to amalgamate the domestic committees into the single Administration Committee after 2005 election.
The Commission should be able to instruct domestic committees as well as delegating matters to them 15.34Authoritative governance This recommendation was put to one side by the Commission in 2000.
The committees must operate according to the Ibbs prescription, making policy recommendations but not exercising executive authority except as authorised to do so by the Commission 15.34Greater clarity in respective responsibilities, as between

Commission (policy decisions)

Offices of the House (service delivery)

Committees (advisory)

Overcoming an adversarial relationship between Committees and Offices of the House

See below.
A detailed statement of the committees' role and method of operation should be authorised by the Commission 15.34As above The creation of Administration Committee gave the opportunity for this to happen, in the form of a protocol under SO 139. On appointment, the present Clerk of the House took immediate steps to try to lessen the adversarial relationship referred to by more direct and better communication with the Committee.
The committees should co-operate with Officers of the House in the style of non-executive and executive directors of boards 15.34Overcoming adversarial relationships / behaviours The merger of the domestic committees initially increased difficulties in this area. There is a need to establish a shared sense of purpose, involving constructive rather than adversarial criticism
The committees should no longer have the power to appoint specialist advisers 15.34Avoidance of polarisation between Committees and Offices of the House The Administration Committee has appointed specialist advisers for specific inquiries to good effect. Independent expert outside advice can help provide the Committee with the knowledge and experience necessary to assess how parts of the House Service are performing.
No Departmental paper should be submitted to a domestic committee without being approved by the Board of Management, or under arrangements made by the Board 15.34Ensuring that proposals take full account of the strategic framework laid down by the Commission Papers are generally submitted by heads of Department - the nature of prior consultation varies with the subject matter, but there is generally good co-ordination between interested parties.
Any recommendation from a domestic committee to the Commission or F&S should be accompanied by a formal statement of costs and benefits 15.34Awareness of costs and expenditure implications within the agreed policy framework Formal statements are not used but recommendations are costed.
The Commission should review the operation of the domestic committees towards the end of this Parliament or early in the next 15.35The need for the Committee to work more co-operatively with the Offices of the House, jointly discussing problems and working towards solutions The House decided to merge the domestic committees into the Administration Committee after 2005 election.
Members and staff could be made generally aware of the work of the domestic committees through the Whip and the Intranet 11.18 to 11.21 and 15.34Better informed staff, customers and stakeholders The Administration Committee is very transparent in its operation, publishing discursive minutes. on the Internet and sending regular e-mail updates on its work to all Members
The operation of the domestic committees should be reviewed by the Commission towards the end of this Parliament or early in the next 15.35More informal arrangements may be needed if these recommendations fail to achieve the directives The domestic committee structure was revised following the 2005 General Election, with the previous five committees being consolidated into a single Administration Committee.
The responsibilities of the Broadcasting Committee should be taken over by the Administration Committee, and the Broadcasting Committee abolished 15.36 and 15.37Rationalisation The Broadcasting Committee was consolidated into the Administration Committee in 2005 as part of the broader changes to the domestic committees - see recommendation 5.35.
House Departments
A possible reorganisation of Departments should be considered by the Commission in time for implementation early in the next Parliament if necessary 15.68Improvement and rationalisation of service delivery, possibly including more outsourcing, subject to the availability of better financial information to improve choices and avoidance of unnecessary turbulence This recommendation was not addressed precisely in those terms; however, the last parliament was, nevertheless, a period of significant change for departments. All departments, in particular the Serjeant's Department, were affected by the work to establish the Parliamentary ICT Service; the Departments of the Official Report and the Library conducted far-reaching reviews of their operations; the Refreshment Department made a substantial cut in the catering subsidy (which involved a significant reassessment of service levels); and much of the Clerk's Department and the Department of Finance and Administration were subject to external review.
The momentum of one-a-year strategic reviews of each House Department needs to be maintained 4.71Strategic management The Board concluded that reviews of departments in isolation would encourage the silo, non-corporate, approach that the rest of Braithwaite sought to break down, and that a more cross-departmental approach was appropriate: actions have included the work of GIP on cross-departmental issues relating to information for the public, the Cummins Review that led to the creation of PICT and cross-departmental VFM studies as part of the internal review programme.
The Clerk of the House
The Clerk should have formal line responsibility for the other Heads of Department, reflected in an Instrument of Delegation made by the Commission. Heads of Department should retain a right of access to the Commission on matters which are of vital importance to their Departments and which cannot be solved in any other way 15.44 and 15.45Corporate working and direction The first part of this recommendation was implemented in a revised Instrument of Delegation, and the second was enshrined in a statement of practice adopted by the Board in November 2000.
An Office of the Clerk should be established to support the work of the Clerk of the House (and the Chairman of F&S in administration business), to help co-ordinate the work of the Board of Management and F&S in serving the Commission, co-ordinate submissions, chase progress, provide support for the Commission if required, and to provide a secretariat for the Board of Management 15.47Enabling the Clerk to discharge the function of Chief Executive

Improving high level decision making structures and processes

The Office of the Clerk was established in 2000 to support the Clerk in his role as Chief Executive, the Board of management and its second-tier groups. The Clerk holds weekly meetings with staff from the Office and the Secretary to the Commission/Clerk to F&S Committee to co-ordinate the Board of Management and F&S in serving the Commission. Direct support by the Office of the Clerk to the Chairman of the F&S Committee involves attendance of the Head of Office at Chairman's briefing and all F&S meetings.
The Office of the Clerk might consist of 3 administrative and 2 support staff selected by the Clerk, and should be located close to the Clerk 15.48A high quality, strategic function (not more bureaucracy) The Office of the Clerk - as envisaged by this recommendation - consists of four staff: Head of Office (1*SCS1), Clerk's Private Secretary (1*A2), Senior Management Groups Secretary (1*A2) & Office Manager (1*C). An internal communications function has been added and part of the Media and Communications Team (see 15:50 below) are also managed by the Office.
There should be a central point where media enquiries affecting the Commission and the House administration could be dealt with 15.50Responsiveness and speaking with one voice at official level on House spending and administration A Media and Communications Team has been established to provide a centrally-managed single point of contact for the media. In addition to responding to media enquiries, the team seeks to promote the work and role of Parliament, in particular through the work of Select Committee Media Officers. To avoid possible conflicts of interest, the Commission retains its own media adviser.
The Board of Management
The Board needs a strategic framework, with politically approved priorities, in order to operate effectively 4.72Improved planning, consideration of strategic options, more effective delivery by Departments and better governance An outline strategic plan was agreed by the Commission in 2001. When the Board reviewed the strategy in March 2005 it considered that it had "provided a valuable framework within which the Board of Management has been able to operate and plan". The Commission agreed a new plan in July 2005.
The Board should continue to perform the role foreseen by Ibbs. Methods of operation should be made more flexible, continuing its use of working groups and outside advice, and co-opting others when required 15.51 and 15.52Strategic management:

The point where estimates, budgets, performance targets and results are brought together

Better preparation through subordinate and cross-cutting subject groups, better liaison with the Finance and Services Committee

The Board has continued its Ibbs role. The Board reviewed and overhauled its working methods following the publication of Braithwaite. Second-tier groups were reviewed and reorganised; work is continuing to formalise the linkages between these groups and the Board. Outside advice has been used (eg in developing corporate risk management). No one has been formally co-opted to the Board; however, it is standard practice for specialist staff to attend for relevant items.

There is room to improve the strategic role of the Board and to move it away from too much micro-management.

A revised Instrument of Delegation will need to reflect the developing role of the Board 15.61A Board with greater authority over departmental business, strategic planning and consideration of House-wide business A revised Instrument of Delegation was issued in 2000 and up-dated in 2005.
The Board should develop and extend its use of preparatory and supporting committees The present 'cross-cutting' groups should have greater equivalence with PMC and PMC(F) and the Information Working Party should become permanent, possibly adding information within the organisation to its remit 15.53 and 15.54Better preparation of business and decisions Following Braithwaite second-tier groups were reviewed and reorganised. Work is continuing to formalise the linkages between these groups and the Board (eg they now submit annual reports and action plans).

At the moment it could be said that there are too many groups in existence and that the whole organisation is over bureaucratic for its size.

The work of the groups should be reported in the Commission Annual Report, but as part of the Board's contribution 15.57Corporate working and governance This recommendation was implemented in the 1999/2000 report. Subsequent changes (see recommendation 5:15) have moved the presentation of the report towards a thematic approach based on the House's primary objectives and away from one based on management structure.
Other bodies established by the Board should be subject to 'sunset clauses' 15.58Efficiency The groups directly established by the Board are either part of permanent governance structure or have specific task-based objectives. Task-based groups e.g. IiP Steering Group, have had sunset clauses where appropriate.
The Board should make greater use of cross-Departmental project structures and processes 15.59Corporate working Cross-departmental working is now firmly established. The use of groups - across departments, pay bands, experience, etc. was commended in 2006 IiP assessment for "engaging people in the continuous improvement of the organisation across a wide range of areas".
The Board should review capital expenditure regularly, making recommendations via F&S to the Commission 15.60Improved management of major projects; control of expenditure; value for money; accountability Most capital expenditure consists of ICT and works projects, both of which are planned and managed largely on a bicameral basis. Sub-committees of the two management boards (the Joint Business Systems Board and the Parliamentary Estate Board) exercise oversight in these areas. This is supplemented by a business case approval process for all major projects. Projects that cannot be funded from existing budgets are referred to F&S. Reports on Estates/Works projects are made termly to F&S.
The Board of Management must fully adopt corporate behaviour 4.72When Board Members have agreed a course of action, they take responsibility for its implementation in their area of business / departments The Board adopted a statement of practice in November 2000 that stressed the need for the Board to conduct itself "in a wholly corporate way".
Members of the Board of Management, and senior Officers in Departments, need additional training in financial and management skills and in the handling of issues within a corporate framework. This should extend downwards into Departments to improve the quality of management and to aid succession planning 4.63, 4.72 and 15.65Improved quality of financial and general management throughout the organisation Progress has been made both in general management training (e.g. the introduction of the Senior Management Development Programme) and in specific skill areas (e.g. a programme of training in financial skills is being conducted by DFA).
The Clerk and the Board of Management need better corporate information reported to them monthly 5.46Better informed discussions about the provision of services - levels, cost, priorities and method of delivery. Performance indicators and activity measures are considered quarterly by the Board of Management and supplemented by regular finance papers from DFA.
The Board of Management should have a close relationship with F&S and meet jointly from time to time 15.21 and 15.51Aligning service delivery with policy control and the interests of customers (Members, public) The Board has held joint meetings with F&S, most recently in December 2005. The Board Secretary attends F&S to ensure that follow-up actions for the Board are identified and pursued.
No Departmental paper should be submitted to a domestic committee without being approved by the Board, or under arrangements made by the Board 15.34Operating within the strategic framework set by the Commission Papers for domestic committees vary considerably in their importance. Many are approved in advance by the Board or by one of the groups reporting to the Board; however, others (for example, those clearly within the remit of a single department) are outside this process.
The Board should be supported by the Office of the Clerk, and a member of that Office should be its Secretary 15.62, see also 4.72A more strategic and corporate approach to the management of finance and services The Head of the Office of the Clerk is Board Secretary and the Clerk's Private Secretary is Assistant Secretary. A forward programme is maintained, agendas developed, papers commissioned or prepared, pre-Board meetings held with all Board members to identify issues, chairman's brief prepared, minutes prepared and actions chased. Additional, informal, one-to-one meetings are held with Board members to discuss corporate issues
The Department of the Clerk of the House should be separately represented on the Board 15.63Corporate working: enabling the Clerk to discharge his CEO functions by removing the responsibility to represent his own Department at Board level This recommendation was implemented by the revised Instrument of Delegation (see recommendation 15.61). Since 2000 the Clerk of Committees has represented the Clerk's Department on the Board of Management freeing the Clerk to chair the Board in his role as Chief Executive.
Financial management and information
Techniques of performance measurement should be further developed, with greater consistency between measurements applied to similar activities 5.18Enabling managers to assess the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of their work; and providing benchmarks for productivity and efficiency gains

Enabling the Board to make judgements about priorities

Work has been undertaken to develop performance measurement at both departmental and corporate levels. However, identifying satisfactory high-level PIs for core businesses remains an issue. The UK inter-parliamentary Contact Group of finance directors and senior administrators is currently sponsoring joint work in this area, with a view to developing measures which can be benchmarked between parliaments.
More comprehensive performance measures are needed in the context of resource accounting and budgeting 5.20As above See above. Some performance indicators have been added to the Corporate Business Plan. However, it was decided to embed resource budgeting via the delegated model before moving to the next stage of developing a cost-attribution model. This in turn is needed before efficiency-based performance measures can be introduced on a consistent basis. Work on the costing model is planned for 2007/08. In the meantime, departments have developed a range of individual output-based measures, some of which are reported to the Board.
Cost information needs extensive development, both to assist performance measurement and to inform decisions on possible outsourcing, and relocation or multiple use of facilities. It should lead to comparison with best practice elsewhere, and benchmarking of similar activities 5.48 to 5.54As above

Assessments of the full costs of particular activities needed to inform decisions on services - levels, quality, priorities and methods of delivery

See above. In the context of resource budgeting costs of pension contributions and fixed asset depreciation have been delegated to departments.
Corporate information should be reported monthly to the Board of Management with higher level abstracts for the Commission and the Finance and Services Committee. Improved lower-level information should go to Departments and individual managers 5.46, 15.11, 15.27 and 5.47A 'single version of the truth', available at different levels of detail for the respective purposes of the organisation - strategic policy, management and executive The Board receives quarterly reports on performance measures and activity indicators. These are supplemented by regular finance papers. Finance papers (e.g. on estimated outturns) also go forward to F&S and the Commission.
Accounting systems should be converged; there should be better coverage, with less duplication; and Departments should have better access. The ability of the PDVN to handle business-critical systems of this kind should be evaluated 5.56Convergence, coverage, integrated systems able to be tailored to meet local requirements This has been implemented via the HAIS and HAIS 2 programmes (e.g. RD accounting consolidated in main system, access to system for finance staff in departments, clarification of roles in the 'delegated model').
The Board of Management should review capital expenditure regularly on the basis of a report from DoFA, making recommendations via F&S to the Commission. The timing should allow any decisions to be taken into account in the preparation of Departments' business plans and of the Estimates 15.60Improved management of major project

Control of expenditure

Value for money


Most capital expenditure is on works and IT projects, which are planned and managed on a bicameral basis. The Board assesses the overall investment programme once a year in its three-year forward look exercise, in time for the preparation of business plans for the following year. The Parliamentary Estate Board and the Joint Business Systems Board monitor the works and ICT programmes on behalf of the two management boards. This system is still bedding in and could be further developed to ensure that appropriate issues are escalated to Board level. The F&S Committee receives regular reports on works/estates and on other major projects e.g. redesign of the Parliament website.
There should be greater emphasis on VFM work 15.70Improved assurance including to the Accounting Officer VFM studies are an element of each financial year's audit programme. IRS's partnership with PwC has strengthened this strand of work. Recent examples include Cleaning and Agency and Casual Staffing. Forthcoming VFM reports include handling of Parliamentary Questions and Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).
An Audit Committee should be established, with a membership of: two members of the Commission (neither to be members of F&S); the Clerk of the House; the Director of Finance and Administration; and someone with appropriate qualifications from outside the House 15.73Improved governance

Assurance that reforms are having intended effect

Independent (external) check on proceedings

This recommendation was implemented. In 2004, on creation of the Members Estimate Committee and its sub-committee the Members Estimate Audit Committee, the Audit Committee was renamed the Administration Estimate Audit Committee. Following revised Treasury guidance, the Accounting Officer and DoFA are no longer members of the Committee, but attend meetings. Also following the revised guidance from the Treasury, there are now two external members of the Committee, one of whom is a qualified accountant.
The Audit Committee should report to the Commission 15.75Adequate separation of authority and independence from the Board of Management The Audit Committee reports formally to the Commission once a year in the form of an annual report, which is also published, as an annex to the CAR. The Chairman and one of the Members of the Audit Committee are also members of the Commission. They report issues to the Commission throughout the year as appropriate.
The Audit Committee should produce an annual report, which would be published with that of the Commission) 15.74Governance Implemented. See 15.75 above.
Department of Finance and Administration (DFA)
Departments must be explicit about the services they need from the DoFA, using two-way Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to supplement a spirit of co-operation. SLAs should be simple, quantitative where possible, and have mechanisms for review. They should be formulated on a corporate basis and be approved by the Board of Management 6.5 and 6.6Improved quality and speed of service from DFA

Clarity about the service to be delivered

Improved understanding and confidence between customers (Departments) and supplier (DFA)

Corporate behaviour

The arrangements were reviewed and formalised as the 'delegated model' in the course of the HAIS 2 programme.
The DFA needs to gain greater credibility and acceptance amongst other Departments if it is to play an effective role in the new arrangements. It should maintain and increase emphasis on customer satisfaction and quality of service, explain and support initiatives effectively and be realistic about the ability of the House organisation to change 6.7Increased customer satisfaction

Better communication and cooperation within the House Service as a whole

DFA has developed customer relationships with all departments by a number of means, including feedback mechanisms. This work has been led by a new Business Development Director (now Deputy Director). The HAIS 2 programme and the delegated model for finance and HR has clarified roles and relationships.
It should improve its knowledge of the business of other Departments through training and familiarisation, supplemented by shadowing, mentoring and some cross-posting 6.7As above DFA trains all its staff on wider House issues. For example staff seminars on broader issues are held regularly: the most recent seminars have been a talk about the work of the Commission by the Commission Secretary, and a talk about the work of whips by a Government whip. All new DFA staff undergo House-wide induction.
Options for the future division of the finance and personnel functions between the centre and Departments should be kept under review. A model should be developed for the personnel function 6.10A more corporate approach to finance and personnel matters would provide a clearer strategic and policy framework within which explicit delegations can take place to Departments to better enable them to deliver their objectives The arrangements were reviewed and formalised as the 'delegated model' in the course of the HAIS 2 programme.
There is a strong case for the next Director of Finance and Administration also to come from outside the House service, probably from Whitehall. Mentoring should be used to help the process of adjustment to the House environment 6.13Introduction of skills and experience from outside.

The ability to challenge House culture

No appointment has been made to this post since the Braithwaite report. The Commission would have strong views on such an appointment.
The Works programme should be an integral part of plans -for the provision of services. It should be submitted to the Board of Management, who should be aware of the views of the Accommodation and Works Committee, and then forwarded to F&S and then to the Commission. 'Neglect' works should be distinguished 7.12 Works are planned and managed on a bicameral basis. The Parliamentary Estate Board monitors the works programme on behalf of the two management boards. This system is still bedding in and could be further developed to ensure that appropriate issues are escalated to board level. The F&S Committee receives regular reports on works/estates and on other major projects e.g. redesign of the Parliament website.
The phasing of the process must ensure that the necessary Estimates provision is not a foregone conclusion, The Board should establish priorities, approved by F&S and the Commission, for the Director's planning of the next edition of the programme 7.24 The Board considers the forward works programme in the light of advice from the Estate Board in advance of the Estimate being agreed. The development of the 25-year Estate Strategy is at an early stage. An outside adviser has been appointed to take forward the process and to make it responsive to prioritising and long-term needs.
The works client and supplier functions should be re-examined, possibly distinguishing more sharply between formulating and fulfilling requirements, with the aim of making the House a tougher commercial customer 7.26 This was taken forward via the 'Braithwaite 2' Review.
There should be an early and rapid review of the role and structure of the Parliamentary Works Directorate, drawing on work already under way. The review should take into account the interrelationship of the different elements of the Department of the Serjeant at Arms, and our recommendations on information technology Close consultation with the authorities of the House of Lords will be necessary 7.27



This was taken forward via the 'Braithwaite 2' Review.
Information Technology
There must be a move to a corporate structure and approach, and central control of infrastructure and standards by the Parliamentary Communications Directorate. PCD should be able to help Departments with particular applications for their own businesses 8.24Better value for money

Better performance and achievement of standards. A more resilient system House-wide

This has been fully implemented with the creation of PICT although the process of PICT's integration into the House Service is still continuing as is its development in providing services to Members.
Two-way service level agreements should be negotiated between Departments and PCD. These should be simple, quantitative where possible, and have mechanisms for review 8.24Building confidence in the IP Department's ability to deliver Some work on SLAs was under-taken by PCD, but they were not fully implemented due to a lack of suitable data for monitoring performance and the absence of appropriate enforcement mechanisms. PICT is looking to establish agreed service levels with users (not just departments), but these will probably not be branded as SLAs.
There must be more accurate identification of costs, measurement of benefits, and development and reporting of performance measures. 8.24Cost control

Value for money

See 5.20 - this is a priority for PICT.
Strategic planning for IT should be closely linked with the overall planning of House services, and co-ordinated primarily at Board of Management level 8.24IT should serve business needs not technical convenience The Joint Business Systems Board has been created with the prime purpose of ensuring that the business plans of both Houses are reflected in and supported by a viable and affordable business systems and ICT strategy for both Houses.
The House should monitor the implications of technological innovation for its own infrastructure and business processes 8.24Improved service

Reduced costs

This function is now being undertaken by PICT. Newer technologies (e.g. wireless access) are being pursued, but PICT needs to ensure that they have become sufficiently established to be supportable.
PCD should take advantage of opportunities for outsourcing when business cases demonstrate likely benefits 8.24A number of services (e.g. the switchboard) are outsourced and PICT is investigating shared service models, particularly for non-customer facing functions.
IT recommendations should be taken forward in close consultation with the authorities of the House of Lords 8.25Cost-effectiveness With the creation of PICT, IT issues are being conducted on a joint basis.
Sharing of services with the House of Lords
Progress on implementation of the joint Internal Audit Review recommendations should be maintained. It will be important to maintain the effectiveness of the annual reviews 10.3Cost-effectiveness The recommendations of the joint Internal Audit Review have largely been implemented and a subsequent review of sharing ratios has been undertaken. Arrangements for reporting and planning vary from service to service - many (e.g. Estates and Works) have arrangements for joint governance.
Communications and culture
Implementation of the Board of Management's action plan in response to the customer survey should be followed further survey work at appropriate intervals to confirm progress 11.10Increasing Members' understanding of how decisions are made.

Increasing Members' confidence in the House service.

Encouraging resolution of issues via officials direct (rather than through the Floor of the House, Whips, Questions)

Further surveys of services were conducted in 2003 and in 2007 (see below). Consideration is to be given as to whether a methodology should be developed to gather views of Members and their staff on a more frequent or continuous basis.

Staff of the House and Members' staff should be fully consulted in future surveys 11.10 and 12.18As above A survey concerning House services was conducted in June and July 2003. Members, their staff and staff of the House were surveyed on a range of issues. The results of the survey, and the action plan, were the subject of a joint meeting between the Board and the Finance and Services Committee in February 2004.

A lesson learned from the 2003 survey was that it is difficult to combine effectively a survey of House staff with a survey of Members and their staff. The two groups will often use different services for different purposes, complicating the design and presentation of the questionnaire; and different response rates between different groups can distort the overall results.

In 2006 the first survey solely for House staff was conducted. This allowed questions on issues not related to services and facilities (such as management issues) to be included. Another survey of House staff was held in May 2007.

The latest survey of Members and their staff took place in March 2007.

There should be a House-wide approach to the provision of information about services, with common standards and presentation 11.14A corporate approach with standard and common presentation makes it easier for Members to find out what they need The Services Information Group (SIG), a second tier group under the Board of Management, takes the lead. Its remit is oversee and co-ordinate the provision of consistent, relevant and timely information about House services to Members, Members' staff and other users of the Parliamentary Estate (other than House staff and the public).

The Office of the Clerk has undertaken much work on behalf of the Board in this area: e.g., formulating an agreed information format for publications, and encouraging departments to improve and co-ordinate e-mail alerts. The Internal Communications Manager has recently established a cross-departmental informal communications network made up of those who communicate with Members. The network has agreed to set up a corporate diary of departmental events aimed at Members to prevent clashes. Further work in this area is under way and will be presented to SIG, and if necessary the Board, in 2007.

Information should concentrate on how to achieve outcomes rather than simply describe a service. Information and contact numbers for related services should be given and hard copy should be paralleled by intranet availability 11.13 to 11.15Customer-facing / focused information There are now common standards for leaflets and publications. Contact numbers are routinely given. SIG's focus with post-election information is to ensure that information is comprehensible, useful and customer focused. To ensure this, information being produced for the next election is currently being trialled on a number of Members who entered the House at the 2005 General Election. Hard copy material is usually also available on the Intranet.

Questions on information provision should be included in follow-up customer surveys 11.16The 2003 survey of services included questions on the quality of information provision in 17 areas ranging from procedural rules to arrangements for visitors. Following the 2005 General Election feedback was sought from newly elected Members by SIG via face-to-face interviews rather than a formal survey.
Helpdesks should be co-ordinated as far as possible. The long-term aim should be to minimise the number through amalgamation 11.17Customer satisfaction

(One stop shops increasingly the norm)

As part of the creation of PICT a number of IT-related helpdesks have been consolidated into the new Service Desk. There are still separate help desks for IT and Works.
The level of House knowledge among Palace telephone operators needs to be improved. High priority need to be given to briefing and rapid updating of information 11.17Improved perception of the organisation (with Members as with the public) There are regular meetings between representatives of switchboard and the information offices of the two Houses to foster consistency of knowledge and information, and improve working practices in the three main telephone bureaux.
Information about the management and direction of House services should be made available in the Whip and on the Intranet. It should include the agenda and conclusions of domestic committees, relevant decisions of the Commission and F&S, and appropriate information from the Board of Management, all in as short a form as possible. Release of information would be at the discretion of the originating body. Contact points for criticisms and suggestions should also be included 11.21 and 15.14Improved dissemination of information = increased confidence in the service provided This recommendation has not been implemented in this format. However, since 2005 the Administration Committee has taken a proactive approach to disseminating information about its activities to Members and others via email and the intranet.

Following Braithwaite, the Board circulated a quarterly Corporate Information Digest to members of the Commission, F&S, the Administration Committee and the audit committees. Information about the activities of management groups within the House Service has been provided via the Office of the Clerk's In Brief service. Both briefings have been revised in 2007.

A 'mugshot board' of photographs of senior managers, perhaps linked to organisation charts, might be posted in key places around the House 11.22Improved relations between House service and Members Implemented. A 'trombinoscope' has been placed around the Parliamentary Estate, and is available on the Intranet. It encompasses both senior staff and Members involved in the House administration.
Better understanding amongst Departments could be increased by some cross-posting, supplemented by shadowing and mentoring. A 'foundation period' for House staff early in their careers should include attachments to other Departments 11.28 and 11.29 Measures which improve staffs' contribution to the objectives of the House service as a whole There is now a House-wide induction programme for new staff.

Interdepartmental loans of staff take place under the Level Transfer Scheme introduced in 2004 and are monitored by the Board as part of the quarterly performance information they receive. The Board is committed to encouraging staff to pursue more cross-departmental careers and putting in place processes to support this. A temporary Director of HR Projects is now actively taking forward a stronger inter-departmental loan project, which is likely to be implemented in autumn 2007.

Aspirations for work shadowing are recorded in Personal Development Plans and take place if possible: e.g., the Internal Review Service offers a member of staff outside their area a chance to shadow their work each year.

Talks and seminars on aspects of business should be given on a House-wide basis, by people with operational responsibility for the subjects concerned 11.32 The Library runs a large number of subject talks, open to all. Rather than hold training events open to all 1,600 staff which would be impractical, effort has been concentrated on ensuring that Departmental Training teams utilise the knowledge of staff in other departments: e.g., DFA recently ran a talk on the work of the Commission by its Secretary.
Although designed initially for House staff, such talks should be open to Members and their staff (also to complement induction courses) 11.33Better understanding of the House, its business and what Departments do should enable Members and their staff to use advice and services more effectively This is not routinely the case. The Scrutiny Unit does run seminars on subjects such as Estimates that are advertised to Members as well as staff.
"Broadly in line"
Interpretation of the terms of the House of Commons (Administration) Act 1978 should not inhibit policies best fitted to a Parliamentary service 15.79The decisive factor should be what is in the best interests of the service of the House This provision has not been a significant constraint in the period since the Braithwaite Review.
The recommendations of this Review should be seen as an integrated package 15.80This recommendation was widely viewed as a 'take it or leave it' offer, but - according to the implementation manager - was actually intended to indicate that non-implementation of any element might require rebalancing or amendment elsewhere.
A change manager should be appointed, to report through the Clerk of the House to the Commission, and lead a group of senior officials of all Departments to implement change 16.3An Implementation Manager and an implementation team managed the change process until June 2001, after which responsibility was handed over to the Office of the Clerk.
Milestones, regular reporting, and measure-ment of performance should be elements of the change process 16.2Periodic reports were made to the Commission and to the Board of Management. Milestones were established in an action plan approved by the Commission.
The change manager should keep the Board of Management closely informed, and should have the right of access to them 16.3In his final report the implementation manager thanked Board members for their "increasingly close and constructive co-operation in the project""
As a matter of good practice, a review similar to this should take place in about 5 years' time 16.8This recommendation was the origin of the current review.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 25 June 2007