Adapting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's global estate to the modern world - Public Accounts Committee Contents

2 Better management information

6.  The Department will be unable to implement its estate strategy successfully without good, robust management information and yet it appears to have been operating in an information vacuum.[13] The Department does not have some of the basic information needed to manage its business such as comprehensive figures on the number of staff from other organisations using the estate, how much money the Department has charged these other organisations for sharing its property, and how this amount has changed over time. The Department does not have accurate data for all of its properties on space and use. The lack of information meant it could not assess whether co-location was successful and whether there was scope to extend the use of the Department's properties by other organisations.[14]

7.  The Department's management information system, Pyramid, was designed to record estate information and performance data, but much of the data it generates is incomplete and of poor quality. Furthermore, the system is not updated regularly. Of the 188 locations who responded to the National Audit Office's (NAO) survey, almost a third did not use the database and in most locations the NAO visited, the system was only updated twice a year. A number of records, such as details of office space, were inaccurate and incomplete and had not been updated since 2006.[15] The Department agreed that this was unacceptable, and confirmed that it had an action plan in place to achieve 100% returns from database users so that it had a complete and accurate picture of usage of space across the estate.[16]

8.  The Department agreed that its management information and estate data were poor and that it needed to do more to ensure it was collecting the right data consistently across the estate. The Department assured the Committee that work was in hand to fill in the gaps in the data set and to collect the additional information needed for the new Estates Director to do his job, and that it hoped to be able to report a much improved picture in 18 months time.[17]

9.  The Department did not have the data it required to be able to show the average space per employee and the cost, compared to other government departments. The Department agreed that while not mandatory, it should collect data in line with the key requirements set out by the Office of Government Commerce for UK government buildings, so that it could demonstrate how its estate performance compared to the guidelines, and identify what it needed to do to improve.[18] The Department was not surprised that it did not fall within the Office of Government Commerce guidelines on space per person as the nature of its buildings and the additional space for business requirements, such as diplomatic functions or interviews, meant that its offices were not directly comparable to typical government buildings in the UK.[19] However, it accepted that it needed to drive down the unnecessary space that it has in properties around the world.[20] In 71% of the Department's overseas properties for which data was available, the average space per person exceeded the current aspiration for domestic central government offices (12m2) by over 50%.[21]

13   Qq 6 and 30 Back

14   Qq 30 and 70; C&AG's Report, para 5.4 Back

15   Q 70; C&AG's Report, para 3.2 Back

16   Q 70 Back

17   Qq 6-7, 30 and 109 Back

18   Q 5 Back

19   Q 5 Back

20   Q 109 Back

21   C&AG's Report, para 3.4 Back

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