Letter to the Committee Specialist from
the Head, Parliamentary Relations Team, Foreign and Commonwealth
Thank you for your letter of 8 December. Our
response to your follow-up queries relating to the FCO's Departmental
Report 2007-08 is as follows:
(a) Could you explain how the FCO takes decisions
on deploying staff, and how they assess whether Posts are over-staffed
Staffing levels and job grading have been devolved
to Directors General and Directors who operate devolved pay budgets.
There are no external or internal limits on FCO headcount. Numbers
are controlled by budget alone.
Decisions about the allocation of resources
(including funding for staff) to Departmental Strategic Objectives
are taken by the FCO Board of Management, in consultation with
Minsters where appropriate, on the basis of bids by Directors.
Directors decide where they need to base staff in order to deliver
their geographical or thematic objectives. We then move staff
to match those priorities.
(b) The FCO's Quarterly Management Letter
of 28 April 2008 states that 40 new diplomatic and 70 new locally
engaged staff positions will be created "across the FCO network
to build the relationships that will be needed to exercise real
influence on the climate change debate throughout the world."
Where will these posts be located, will the
post holders work exclusively on climate change and what grades
will the posts be?
In accordance with the FCO's new strategic framework,
we have increased the number of staff working to deliver climate
change and energy objectives. This has led to the creation of
19 positions in London, 32.5 new overseas diplomatic positions
and 73 new locally engaged staff positions. The distribution of
the new staff is in line with the FCO's priority countries for
climate change. These are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France,
Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia,
Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and the
USA. The newly recruited staff are located in: Caracas, Bogota,
Lima, Brasilia, Vancouver, Ottawa, Santiago, Mexico City, Buenos
Aires, La Paz, Washington and across the US network, New Delhi,
Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Moscow, St Petersburg, Beijing and across
the China network, Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok,
Manila, Tokyo, Seoul, Pretoria, Cape Town, Berlin, Rome, and Warsaw.
UK-based diplomats have been recruited at grades SMS, D6 and C4
(corresponding to Counsellors, First Secretaries and Second Secretaries
when in overseas posts.) LE staff have been recruited at grades
LEI-LEIII. The newly recruited staff has a range of responsibilities
which vary depending on the climate change and energy priorities
of the mission in which they are based. These priorities are set
out in each mission's business plan.
2. DRUGS AND
How will the transfer of responsibility for drugs
and crime from the FCO to SOCA and the Home Office impact on the
FCO's work at the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna?
As we made clear at the time of last year's
Strategy Refresh, the FCO recognises the importance of HMG's work
on drugs and crime issues to the UK. We remain engaged under Departmental
Strategic Objective 1 (a flexible global network serving the whole
of the British Government) even though the policy lead has passed
to the Home Office. The UK Mission to the UN in Vienna devotes
a significant part of its effort to working with UNODC. The UK
continues to make substantial extra-budgetary contributions to
UNODC programmes in the field, both bilaterally and via the European
Commission, which is one of UNODC's largest donors. In 2008 to
date, the UK has contributed $4.3 million, $3.8 million from the
FCO, making it the seventh largest donor.
The UK is also:
doing more work than before with
UNODC on harm reduction in the HIV/AIDS context and on corruption,
with DfID's funding of a new expert slot in the UK Mission to
steward these issues;
increasing our activism on UNODC
issues in Vienna in assuming the Chairmanship of the UNODC Major
Donors Group. This enables us to play a leading strategic role
in guiding and redefining the work of the Group in such a way
that it stimulates the UNODC Secretariat to higher standards of
delivery, more strategic coherence in its development of thematic
and regional programmes, and more transparency and responsiveness
in its work with its biggest funders; and
taking over the Vice Chair of the
Commission on Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice, giving
us even more visibility and impact with UNODC.
In our last Report, the Committee commented (paragraph
102, "Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2006-07")
on the FCO's progress in professionalising its top financial management.
What progress has been made in this respect since the Committee's
last report was published?
Work on professionalising top and middle financial
management in the FCO has continued to progress. IPF Consultancy,
the consulting arm of CIPFA, recently conducted an independent
review of the FCO's financial management using its CIPFA financial
management model. The review concluded that there had been a strong
improvement over the last two years from a low base, that our
performance relative to other Departments was commendable and
that we were well-placed to improve our skills and professionalism.
The following developments have occurred since the last FAC report.
Tim Gardner, a qualified Management Accountant
who had previously headed the Five Star Finance Programme in the
FCO, took up his post as Finance Director on 1 January 2008. Tim
was previously a Director of a large consultancy and has held
similar finance positions with a number of commercial organisations.
Senior Management Staff (SMS) and Band D staff
are required to undertake the Professional Skills for Government
(PSG) finance e-learning and two-day Financial Management course.
To date 70% of SMS and Band D staff have attended the course.
We are taking forward in-house financial training.
In the New Year we will introduce tailored individual finance
training for directors. We will launch a Finance in the FCO course
aimed at the generalist level. We will also roll out a budgeting
course, which will be mandatory for all budget holders in the
The first intake of graduate entrant accountancy
trainees recruited through the Government Finance Profession (GFP)
scheme joined the FCO on 1 September 2008. The trainees will undertake
a series of placements in the FCO finance community during their
training. We plan to recruit at least five more GFP trainees in
2009. The aim is for the FCO to "grow its own" accountants
who will be equipped to occupy senior management positions in
The FCO also participates in two Whitehall-wide
programmes designed to increase the financial acumen of current
and future senior civil servants. The Accelerated Programme provides
a fast track to a professional accountancy qualification for SMS
staff. Jonathan Knott, formerly Head of Financial Planning and
Performance Department and now Deputy Head of Mission in Seoul,
was the FCO's first "graduate" from the programme in
December 2007. Under the Fast Stream Finance Option, we have three
policy entrants studying for a professional accountancy qualification
while pursuing a generalist FCO career overseas.
Since November 2007 we have offered two one-year
financial qualifications (ACCA Diploma in Financial Management
and CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting) to generalist middle-management
staff wanting to enhance their financial management skills.
4. FCO SUPPORT
(a) A letter from the Foreign Secretary to
the Committee, dated 8 March 2008, included the following statement:
"The Schemes have had real strengths. But we need to refocus
them to ensure that these strengths are consistent. We will maintain
a global scheme, but we will focus scholarships particularly on
those countries such as China and India which are going to be
most important to our foreign policy success over coming years."
The Committee would be grateful to receive clarification
as to whether the "focus" referred to in the extract
above will result in a reduction in the number of scholarships
available to applicants in other countries and if so, which countries
and applicants will be affected and to what extent.
As the Foreign Secretary also said in his letter
of 11 March, we proposed a smaller FCO scholarships programme,
saving some £10 million a year for new activity on our new
policy goals, mainly climate change. In his further letter of
30 May he showed that the budget for the Chevening programme (scholarships
and Fellowships) was reduced from £32,289,000 in 2007-08
to £23,660,000 in 2008-09. We reduced the number of Chevening
Scholarships for all countries proportionately except those that
were already in receipt of only one or two awards, because we
want Chevening to remain a global scheme. But we have also retained
our focus on our priority countries. The top 15 countries (China,
India, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq,
Turkey, Mexico, Malaysia, Iran, South Africa and Hong Kong) received
nearly 35% of the available budget for new scholarships this year.
And we still have nearly 1,000 Chevening scholars this year, compared
with 1,370 in 2007-08.
(b) The same letter of 8 March 2008 stated:
"These changes will free up some £10 million a year
for new activity on our new policy goals."
The Committee would be grateful for clarification
as to what "these changes" specifically refer to.
The changes are the reduction in the Chevening
Scholarships Scheme and the ending of the FCO contribution to
the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan after 2008-09,
except for the continuing cost of scholars on two or three-year
(c) Further to the memorandum from Sir Peter
Ricketts, dated 20 November 2008, the Committee would be grateful
for additional information on FCO funding for Chevening Scholarships,
Chevening Fellowships, Commonwealth Scholarships and the Marshall
The Committee would like to know:
How much did the FCO spend in each
of the last three financial years on each of the programmes listed
What is the projected FCO spend on
each of the schemes listed above for the next three financial
You asked how much the FCO spent on Chevening
scholarships, Chevening Fellowships, Commonwealth scholarships
and Marshall scholarships in each of the last three years. The
figures for the Chevening programme exclude the management fee
to the British Council, other administrative expenditure on the
new Chevening.com website, e-Chevening online scholarship application
system etc, scholar receptions and homestays for Chevening scholars
and Fellows through HOST UK. The Chevening alumni project fund
is a new fund, started in 2006-07 on a trial basis, to stimulate
engagement with Chevening alumni associations. The figures for
Commonwealth and Marshall Scholarships are as given in the Foreign
Secretary's letter of 30 May.
|Financial year||Chevening scholarships
||Chevening alumni project fund
You also asked about projected expenditure on each scheme
for the next three years. It is as follows:
|Financial year||Chevening scholarships
||Chevening alumni project fund
|2010-11||Not yet decided
||Not yet decided||Not yet decided
||Not yet decided|
The Department for International Development has increased
its funding for the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
(CSFP) by £1 million this year to £15.93 million and
will increase it further to £17.43 million in 2009-10 and
£17.5 million in 2010-11. This is for developing Commonwealth
countries. The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
will give the CSFP £400,000 in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11
for three-year doctoral awards for developed Commonwealth countries.
15 December 2008