Equality and Human Rights Commission - Public Accounts Committee Contents

Report to GEO and ECHR



  The review was asked to identify lessons for future NDPB mergers and start ups, from the establishment of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), drawing on the experience of similar programmes. Issues specified in the terms of reference were timetable, the early severance scheme, recruitment and secondment processes, governance and the impact of machinery of government changes. Communications and culture change were also identified as common issues for NDPB start ups and mergers.

  The programme was successful, in that the transition took place to the timetable agreed by Ministers. It was high risk for much of its duration.

  The EHRC programme ran for a year before the appointment of the Chair, 18 months before the Chief Executive was appointed, itself only six months before the start of the new organisation. Though it was rephased, and day one expectations managed down, the delays in appointments and consequent delays in organisational design and other workstreams made the programme high risk.

  The key lesson echoes one from Ofcom. Incoming leaders need time to shape the organisation and recruit the right staff. They should agree a realistic start date.

  While delivery built up to 30 March 2008, change on 1 October 2007 included people, buildings, IT and other systems. All the legacy bodies wound up one working day before the EHRC opened.

  With hindsight, a staged transition would have been lower risk

  The transition team was technically expert, but for much of the programme it lacked people with experience of operating with central Government. Sponsor department resources were stretched, particularly in the early stages,

  Transition teams and sponsor departments need the right mix of skills.

  Pressures on the team led to quick fixes to bring in people with the necessary skills. This contributed to low staff morale.

  Where possible, timetables should allow for open recruitment procedures. If full competition is not possible, reasons and selection criteria should be widely communicated.

  Governance of the programme was seen as good by Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Gateway reviewers in May 2006. It did not adapt well to the appointment of the Chair and Board. The NAO report on Ofcom also reports lack of clarity in governance in the period between the appointment of the Chair and the Chief Executive.

  Sponsor departments need help in planning transition arrangements, in particular any period where a Chair and some Board members need to co-exist with an executive interim team.

  Machinery of Government changes increased programme risks.[2] The second change in July 2007 was particularly difficult, creating uncertainty and extra work at a period of intense activity. It put back the negotiation of the Framework Documents, which had been agreed in draft in May 2007.

  Delaying the start date should be considered as a risk management option if significant change in the external environment, such as machinery of government changes, impact on future NDPB set ups.

  Stakeholder communication, including with legacy commissions and their staff, was a challenge. Early good practice was not maintained throughout the programme.

  Communication with stakeholders and culture change for staff is an important element in successful transition.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) was the sponsor from May 2006 to July 2007.

The creation of a Government Equalities Office as part of the Department for Work and Pensions was announced in July 2007.

The GEO became a separate department in October 2007.

Accounting Officer responsibility remained with CLG until the GEO Accounting Officer was appointed in February 2007.

2   The Department for Trade and Industry sponsored the ECHR transition programme to May 2006. Back

previous page contents next page

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

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 4 March 2010