Select Committee on Transport Seventh Report


1  Introduction


1.  As part of our regular scrutiny of the Department for Transport's Annual Reports, we held evidence sessions on 24 October 2007 and 30 January 2008 on the 2007 Report.[1] The Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly MP, and the Permanent Secretary, Mr Robert Devereux, gave oral evidence at both sessions. We are grateful to our witnesses, and to officials at the Department for Transport for responding to our supplementary questions.

2.  This report focuses on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department, with particular emphasis on the performance of the Department in meeting its Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets set in the Spending Review 2004, which covers the period 2005-08.

3.  The work of the Department is high on the political agenda. Its decisions affect not only the transport system but also the wider economy and environment. The Department for Transport controls a very substantial budget, totalling £13.7 billion in 2006-07.[2] The Secretary of State has said that, in keeping with the spirit of the Stern report, the Department should be seen equally as an 'economic' department and a 'green' department, pursuing economic growth as well as tackling greenhouse gas emissions. In her view, there need not be any contradiction between the two.[3]

4.  In 2007, the Cabinet Office reviewed the ability of the Department for Transport to deliver future programmes and targets through a Capability Review. The Department was assessed as 'strong' or 'well placed' on four of the ten indicators used in the analysis.[4] Four elements were assessed as 'development areas', and two as 'urgent development areas'. The areas deemed to need urgent development were taking "responsibility for leading delivery and change" and developing "clear roles, responsibilities and business model(s)". There were no areas causing "serious concerns". Overall, this assessment places the Department close to the Whitehall average in terms of the capacity to deliver future programmes and targets.

5.  Mr Devereux reported that two key action points had already been implemented to improve leadership within the Department: the creation of an effective Board, and a clear standard of leadership across the Department and its agencies. The Capability Review team had recently returned to the Department for a six-month progress assessment.[5] The Capability Review team found that, in the six months since their original assessment, the Department had made progress in implementing effective leadership strategies. The Committee is pleased to learn that the Department has taken appropriate and swift action to rectify some of the concerns identified in the Capability Review. Much still remains to be done, and we will monitor progress in this area, and return to these issues when we examine the Department's 2008 Annual Report.


1   Department for Transport Annual Report 2007, Cm 7095 Back

2   Department for Transport Resource Accounts 2006-07, HC 766, page 22, net total resource outturn 2006-07.  Back

3   Q2 Back

4   Cabinet Office Report, Capability Review of the Department for Transport, June 2007 Back

5   Q101 Back


 
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Prepared 13 June 2008