Further written evidence submitted by
the Sustainable Development Commission |
(SDC) AND THE
- CESP focuses on supporting improvements in Government
operations and procurement, advising departments how to meet the
environmentally-focussed SOGE targets and the 10% carbon
reduction commitment. It does not oversee Government's sustainable
development (SD) agenda, and does not advise on the sustainability
of operations, and how these could help drive Government's broader
policy aims on sustainable development.
- CESP's work does not cover departmental public
policy. CESP does not scrutinise or advise on policies and their
impacts, and has no in-house experience or expertise to do so
adequately. CESP does not and cannot advise on cross-cutting policy
issues in its current form and cannot provide department-specific
commentaries or an overview of the adequacy of government's policies.
All this will be lost when the SDC closes.
- CESP does not provide independent challenge and
scrutiny of Government operations. CESP's work is entirely "inside
track" and when the SDC closes, independent challenge and
scrutiny will be lost. The SDC also advises on improvements outside
the narrow scope of the SOGE targets. CESP and other Government
departments have commissioned the SDC to undertake research and
advice on specific areas such as sustainable travel and sustainable
energy in the public sector. The SDC has also advised on how greater
innovation can maximise government's influence beyond its estate.
- Scrutinising operations includes having a reliable
and trusted system for measuring progress. At the moment, for
example, the SDC sits on the Government's SOGE Baseline Panel
which makes judgements about the baselines against which departments'
progress is measured. Without the SDC, an independent scrutineer
would need to ensure that these judgements are sound and trusted
by the public.
With the SDC closing, it has been asked whether CESP
could fulfil all the functions of the SDC in regards to Government
operations and procurement. The SDC has identified the following
gaps that CESP is not currently in a position to fill, and some
risks going forward:
- The independent scrutiny and challenge offered
by the SDC cannot be fulfilled by CESP given their "inside
track" management and reporting structure which would result
in a conflict of interests if it were to act as both the delivery
body and the reporting body.
- CESP does not
benefit from the direct access to a panel of SD experts which
the SDC has in the form of its board of commissioners.
- CESP does not comment on departments' policies
and does not provide any capability building support to help departments
- As CESP is the delivery body for the sustainable
operations and procurement agenda, the link between Government
operations and policy has never formed part of CESP's remit. The
SDC has been responsible for providing this mechanism to directly
influence departmental policies and their alignment with operational
and procurement objectives. It is unclear who will take on this
- CESP's operational remit is limited to narrow
environmental and financial issues, and not the wider social benefits
that can be gained from an SD approach. It does not focus on how
environmental, social and economic operational objectives can
be mutually reinforcing.
- CESP has recently disbanded the "CESP Board"
which is responsible for bringing together key stakeholders across
government to better coordinate the improvement of Government
operations and procurement. This should be reinstated or replaced
with urgency to ensure Government is able to properly co-ordinate
its operational activities.
Based on discussion between the SDC and CESP, it
should be noted that CESP's remit appears to have narrowed since
the 2010 national elections, with its focus narrowing almost entirely
to carbon reporting; although it has committed to make the data
for the final two years of the current SOGE Framework (2009-10
& 2010-11) publicly available.
Government established a series of targets in 2002
to manage the sustainability of its own operations, which have
come to be known as the Sustainable Development on the Government
Estate (SDGE) targets, replaced in 2005 by the Sustainable Operations
on the Government Estate (SOGE) targets. Initially, responsibility
for collecting and reporting data relating to these targets lay
with Defra. In 2004, the SDC agreed to take on this function as
part of its Watchdog role. In response to the SDC's 2007 annual
Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) report, the establishment
of CESP was announced in the 2008 Budget to take the data collection
process back into Government. 2009 was the first year that CESP
managed the data gathering, cleansing and reporting process for
the financial year 2008-09. As the day-to-day management of data
collection was taken over by CESP from the SDC, it was important
to avoid any unnecessary overlaps between the different roles
of the two organisations, which was achieved through a Memorandum
of Understanding (available upon request). The SDC clarified that
the main differences are:
|The SDC is Government's official independent adviser on sustainable development, working closely with Government while maintaining an "outside track".
||CESP is wholly within Government, positioned within the Cabinet Office, which allows the potential for greater influence over Government Departments in-line with Cabinet Office ministerial guidance.
|The SDC reports to the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
||CESP reports only on activities taking place in Whitehall Departments, reporting primarily to the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord President of the Council).
|The SDC focuses on all aspects of sustainability across Government operations, procurement and policy; using advocacy, advice, capability building and appraisal, to help put sustainable development at the heart of Government by working with key stakeholders to drive through the changes needed.
||CESP focuses only on limited environmental targets across central Government operations and procurement, working with key stakeholders to share information and experience to drive through the changes needed to meet Government's existing SOGE and Sustainable Procurement Action Plan (SPAP) commitments. This has recently narrowed almost exclusively to carbon management.
|The SDC scrutinises the SOGE data, develops & applies a scoring methodology to establish league tables, querys gaps in the data, requests contextual information for significant shifts in performance, comments on the data management and rebaselining process, and ultimately provides expert public recommendations and commentary (including, but not limited to the SOGE targets) to Government through the annual SDiG report. The SDC's work on operations includes innovative and ambitious research and recommendations for maximising government's influence beyond its estate - through supply chains and across communities, for example the broader behaviours of staff and public service customers.
||CESP manages the day-to-day collection, management and storage of the SOGE data, including building capability in data capture and reporting, focusing on improving quality, establishing trajectories, developing a clearer picture of performance and taking account of all the recommendations of the SDiG report when working with departments to develop delivery plans and lay out timescales for their delivery.
|The SDC's work goes well beyond the SOGE targets, with staff working closely with Government officials across the UK on embedding SD into policies, building capability, and offering advice through our scrutiny work on Sustainable Development Action Plans (SDAPs), public policy, and departmental management systems.
||In addition to managing the reporting data for all Government operations and procurement targets, CESP is charged with producing six monthly updates on the delivery of sustainability initiatives made in Government's Sustainable Procurement and Operations on the Government Estate Delivery Plan and it operates the CESP Board (which has recently been disbanded).
28 October 2010