Note from the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services prior to the
Committee visit to Hanslope Park
Hanslape House (later Hanslope Park) was built
in 1692 by Basil Brent. Hanslope Park Estate was requisitioned
by the Ministry of Defence in 1941 and in May 1942 the radio intercept
station became fully operational. In September 1945 it was proposed
to close Hanslope Park down. However, the Foreign Office Diplomatic
Wireless Station at Whaddon Hall had outgrown its facilities and
therefore the decision was made to transfer to Hanslope Park.
Technical facilities at Hanslope Park underwent continual modernisation
and in 1985 a new central receiver site building was constructed
and equipped with the latest radio and mainframe computer equipment
The Foreign Office purchased the 60 acre site from the Hesketh
Estate in 1988 for £2.5 million.
Changing technology led to a decision to abandon
radio communication In favour of satellite and landline methods
and in 1993 Hanslope Park ceased to be a radio communications
centre. It continued to provide technical support and became a
computing and administrative centre. Park House was refurbished
between 1994 and 1995.
The Edward Watts building was opened in 1991.
It was designed especially to store and review the Foreign Office
records prior to being sent to the Public Records Office.
The 60 acre site is split between the FCO, which
occupies approx 40 acres, and HMGCC, which occupies approx 20
acres. A total of nearly 800 FCO staff and FCO Services staff
and 590 contract staff (Cap Gemini, Hewlett Packard and others)
share the site which is self sufficient with an on site Nursery
which opened in 2006, a gym, a restaurant, tennis courts and sewerage
There is significant pressure on accommodation
at Hanslope Park with a number of the buildings requiring significant
refurbishment and modernisation. Whilst the new ICT building will
bring some additional space a significant proportion of that gain
will be lost when the portakabins are removed next year. This
was a condition of planning approval by Milton Keynes Planners
for the ICT Building. The FCO have drawn up a Masterplan for the
development of the site which has been approved by Milton Keynes
The FCO is seeking to improve the sustainability
of its operations at Hanslope Park through the implementation
of an Environmental Management System, which is accredited under
the International Standards Organisation (ISO 14001). Actions
include improving the biodiversity of the site through construction
of a pond in 2007, drawing up a travel plan, and investigating
the feasibility of constructing a biomass boiler and wind turbine
on the site.
The ICT Building designed by GMW Architects
and built by Sir Robert McAlpine was officially handed over to
the Foreign Office on 18 June. The building can accommodate 425
staff in modem open plan working space and houses four data halls.
The building has aspects of sustainable design
which include re-cycling heat from the data centres, rain water
re-cycling, solar hot water, atrium allowing air flow stack effect,
thermal mass (coffered ceilings). The construction cost is £33.7
Security has already been upgraded at the rear
entrance and work is now underway to provide the same level of
security to the front entrance of the site.
Hanslope Park is the FCO's agreed designated
relocation centre. Since 2004 224 staff positions have been relocated
from London to Hanslope Park, the majority being In IT with others
drawn from Vetting Services and HR. Legalisation Department which
requires facilities for direct public access, is being relocated
to a newly leased building In Central Milton Keynes in JuIy. Additional
non-secure type jobs will follow and also be located in Central
FCO Services has existed since 1999,
firstly as a Directorate of the FCO and then as an Executive Agency
from 1 April 2006. Following 2 years successful trading as an
Agency, FCO Services became a Trading Fund on 1 April 2008. As
a Trading Fund, we remain part of the FCO and our relationship
is one of long-term strategic partnership.
FCO Services is based in 2 locations
in the UK (London and Hanslope Park) with the majority of our
staff based primarily in the latter. In addition, we have an overseas
network of technical specialists who maintain embassy buildings
and ensure their physical and technical security.
FCO Services employs around 1000
staff and contractors. As of 1 April 2008, our staff included
23.9% woman, 6.1% from minority ethnic backgrounds and 3.3% with
In 2007, FCO Services developed a
new business strategy, focusing on our core strengths: the provision
of secure ICT, secure logistics and the provision of a secure
environment This strategy forms the basis of our five year Corporate
Plan, approved by Ministers.
A key part of our strategy is to
grow the volume of our business with non-FCO customers. The FCO
will, however, remain our priority customer and we are committed
to maintaining a guaranteed supply of "mission-critical"
secure services to the FCO.
The services we provide fall into the following
Biometrics and border control
We provide a range of services, including technical
design, system development, testing and implementation. One of
our key projects this year has been our work with Ukvisas on the
implementation of their biometrics programme, helping them to
complete the global roll-out of biometric data collection technology
to 135 countries.
Secure network solutions
We deliver and maintain secure global IT solutions.
A joint service delivery team from the FCO, FCO Services and Hewlett
Packard maintains the FCO's global secure communications network
and also provides secure hosting faclitles for lOT systems. We
are currently working with Hewlett Packard to deliver the FCO's
next generation global IT infrastructure and the joint team has
met its first roll-out milestone, with the delivery of over 2000
desktops to the FCO's main building in London by May 08.
We provide project management services to build
secure environments and deliver the physical and technical security
solutions needed to protect them. As the UK National Authority
for Counter-Eavesdropping (UKNACE), FCO Services is the UK governments
centre of excellence on technical and protective security. To
support the development of new products and services we have set
up a specialist R&D function to manage our pipeline of innovations.
Global management services
Our technical management officers overseas provide
secure services to protect staff, posts and communications channels,
while our technical works officers provide professional advice
on all aspects of maintaining an estate, property management services
and health and safety management services.
We work with strategic partners in the UK and
around the world to provide secure logistical services, including
the worldwide handling of mail through HM Diplomatic Bag service.
We carry out security vetting for many UK government
departments as well as for companies who deliver services to government.
We provide security vetting for all levels of clearance, but have
particular expertise in DV clearances, where we currently hold
25% of the market share.
Translation and Interpreting
We have a small In-house team, supported by external
specialist translators, which provide a translation service from
and into any sovereign state language. We also provide interpreting
services for a range of events including summits, conferences
We have revised our governance structure
this year to reflect more accurately our responsibilities as an
Agency and then a Trading Fund. Our Chief Executive has ultimate
responsibility for the day-to-day management of FCO Services and,
as Accounting Officer, is accountable to Parliament for ensuring
the effective use of public funds.
The Chief Executive is supported by:
The FCO Services Board: meeting
at least 6 times per year, this Board is chaired by a Non-Executive
Director and includes 3 further independent Non-Executive Directors
in addition to the Chief Executive and FCO Services Directors.
This Board reviews our strategic agenda, sets corporate policy
and monitors performance.
The Audit Committee: meeting
at least four times per year, this Committee is also chaired by
an independent Non-Executive Director and includes the FCO's Finance
Director as well as external and internal auditors.
The Executive Committee: meeting
weekly, this committee, chaired by the Chief Executive and attended
by FCO Services' Directors, focuses on the management of day-to-day
Developing the skills of our staff
in the run-up to our transition to Trading Fund status and in
preparation for operating in a more competitive environment has
been a key priority for FCO Services. As part of a wide-ranging
change programme, we have delivered training programmes covering
financial skills as well as training to support the embedding
of our new commercial process.
We are now focusing on our longer
term skills gaps. Our plans to address them include the expansion
of our apprenticeship scheme to enable us to grow our in-house
specialist skills and build our pipeline of talent and help reduce
our use of external contractors.
We have also focused on bringing
key skills into the organisation and have recruited approximately
50 new members of staff with expertise in areas such as IT support,
counter-measures, vetting and electrical engineering.
We recognise that the organisation
has gone through a period of significant change and the buy-in
of our staff is crucial to FCO Services' success. We therefore
have in place a programme of communications, including opportunities
for staff to interact with the Chief Executive and Directors.
We monitor feedback through a range of channels including an annual
employee opinion survey and the IiP process.
The Transaction Processing Team is part of the
FCO's Finance Directorate and is headed by Iain Morgan.
Transaction Processing covers the following
Responsible for the FCO's banking and Cash Management
operations. Key activities include (a) the forecasting and securing
of funding in up to 33 different currencies, sufficient to cover
the FCO's day to day expenditure requirements in the UK and at
our Overseas Missions; and (b) ensuring bank accounts and ledgers
Management Accounting Systems
Responsible for developing and maintaining finance
reporting and costing systems used within the FCO. To support
financial and wider processes across the FCO and developing management
information capability, including activity recording.
Balance Sheet Integrity
Responsible for ensuring all balance sheet reconciliations
are performed and validated to support the production of the monthly
Key Performance Report and Annual Accounts.
Responsible for maintaining the General Ledger
and the month end close. Provides Prism Super User skills for
all financial processes.
Fixed Assets and Projects
Responsible for maintaining the FCO Fixed Assets
Register (value £1.4 billion).
Responsible for maintaining Prism Projects Ledger,
and providing the split of Programme costs (£1.1 billion).
Responsible for recovering money from our Partners
Across Government through the Central Invoicing Unit.
Accounts Payable (UK Processing Centre)
Developed as part of the FCO's Shared Services
Programme, the UK Processing Centre (UKPC) was opened in November
2007 and its establishment has provided the opportunity to bring
a more professional approach to the Purchase to Pay process. The
UKPC comprises a small team from Transaction Processing Centre
(TPC) and Corporate Procurement Group (CPG).
The UKPC is responsible for the following areas:
Following a roll-out programme that started
with key suppliers American Express and FCO Services, UKPC gradually
took on responsibility for processing all invoices for UK departments.
On average the Invoice team process 4,200 invoices per month.
Payments have always been made centrally in
the UK for the UK and that work now falls under the remit of the
UKPC. Overseas posts enter and pay their own invoices, unless
the Suppliers are paid in sterling, in which case it falls to
UKPC to facilitate that payment. The average value of payments
par month is GBP124 million, excluding any foreign currency payments.
UKPC have recently taken control of foreign
exchange payments, this requires making foreign currency deals
with the bank, as and when required.
Supplier Set-up and Maintenance
The team is responsible for setting up any new
suppliers required for the UK and also for maintaining the integrity
of the data world-wide.
The team is responsible for issuing corporate
credit cards and virtual government procurement cards. This is
managed through D.Cal, our web based processing software. All
transactions on the card are held on D.Cal for cardholder to validate
anywhere in the world. The data is then lifted into Prism to record
the transactions in the GL and Projects. Payments can then be
made to the card processing bank by the due date. Average monthly
spend on the cards is GBP 1.5 milllon.
Purchase Order Processing
Purchase order processing is still in the early
phases of roll-out for UK departments. Currently UKPC process
all purchase orders raised on supplier FCO Services and all requisitions
for one UK department, this accounts for approximately one third
of all purchase orders raised in the UK. Continuation of the roll-out
programme is constrained due to lack of accommodation and resource.
The intention is to process all purchase orders for UK departments,
and also orders for overseas posts that are placed on UK suppliers.
The Committee will be aware of the outcome of
the recent OGC Gateway 0 Review of the overall programme. We are
currently working through the implications of that review and
how best to take forward the shared services agenda in the FCO.
The Programme's new Director, Andrew Lloyd, took up his new role
on 19 June. One of Andrew's early priorities will be to present
his initial impressions to the FCO Board and agree a strategy
Meanwhile work continues apace on negotiating
a Facilities Management (FM) contract for the UK Home Estate and
14 posts in North West Europe. We have now received completed
tender bids from two of the market leaders. Evaluation is now
complete and we believe that we are well placed to let a contract
that provides increased efficiency and value for money in delivering
FM services going forward. The OGC have just completed a Gateway
3 review of this procurement and have given us the green light
to move towards contract signature. The OGC Review Team considered
the overall project management and communication of the Facilities
Management Project to be examples of good practice. Mobilisation
is scheduled to begin in September with completion of go-live
by mid 2009.
Five Star Finance programme set up
in July 2007 with Finance Director as Programme Manager.
National Audit Office supplied definitions
of the effectiveness of finance functions, ranging from one star
(worst) to five stars (best).
Objective of programme is to take
FCO financial management from two star performance rating (2007)
to five star rating by mid-2009 and gain recognition as a Whitehall
Milestonesto reach 3.5* by
July, 4* by October, 5 star by June 2009. Published on FCONet
and progress reflected every month.
New Finance Directorate structure
introduced 1 April 2008 based on internal and consultancy studies.
Streamlined number of Resource Management
Units (RMUs) to eight, amalgamating where possible to share resources
and centralise some processes in the UK Processing Centre. RMUs
act as links between the corporate centre and our Posts and UK
Budgets of the finance function have
been reduced to reach our targets from the CSR07 settlement.
Management Information and IT Systems
The monthly Board reports are being
improvedboth speed and quality.
We are overhauling our management
information requirements and reports.
Work underway to take on the new
Oracle budgeting tool from 2009-10.
We have bought the CIPFA financial
management model to help benchmark and improve our performance.
In use at other Whitehall departments. Action plan by end of September
The Board has approved 10 specific
measures to improve our financial management in 2008-09.
Controls and Risk
We are shortening the cycles for
the implementation of internal audit recommendations.
We are intensifying the use of `self
audit' packages and ensuring that controls required by the NAO
are being applied, thus enabling faster year-end external audit.
Standardising and streamlining the
delegated authority processes, relying on built-in IT controls
with better training and guidance.
Skilled staff are key to improving financial
management in the FCO. We therefore have a substantial programme
to raise the skills of our staff.
Professionalising the finance community
By end of 2008, all SMS and 60% of
Band D staff in Finance Directorate will be professionally qualified.
In the last 18 months, a qualified DG Finance and Finance Director
have been recruited.
10 B3 trainees to new FCO Accountancy
Training Scheme have been recruited through external recruitment
with five Partners Across Government (led by DWP). Trainees start
Three Fast Stream Finance Option
trainees studying for their accountancy exams in Colombo, Tel
Aviv and Warsaw, using local facilities and remote learning.
For other staff we are defining financial
skills standards, and developing a new training programme and
testing to deliver those standards.
Working with Partners Across Government
to facilitate interchange between departments and open up Whitehall-wide
careers for finance specialists.
Raising financial management standards in the
Have had a major push on getting
all SMS and band D staff to complete the Professional Skills for
Government e-learning and two-day course. 75% of the target bands
are expected to have completed the course by the end of September.
Developing training for budget managers,
DGs and Directors.
From April 2008 provides help to
our network with any finance query.
In first two months of operation
volume of calls increased (compared to calls to old service in
same period last year) by 63%, and call resolution time went down
by 37% to 3.51 days with no increase in staff numbers.
Service enables us to track finance
issues that are causing problems in the network, and to respond
to those issues.
Finance Direct also monitor posts'
performance on Prism through the Prism Performance Indicators
and provide targeted support to the posts that need it most.
20 June 2008