31. In our report on Transport and the economy
we called for the DfT to publish a strategy to explain what
the Government aims to achieve by spending money on transport
and how its policies support these aims.
The department dismissed our recommendation, pointing us to the
lists of actions in the business plan.
The business plan is a useful and informative document but it
does little more than list transport policies and target dates
for implementation. It sits in a strategic vacuum and can easily
be overtaken by events. For example, the sudden rash of extra
investment in transport projects announced by the Chancellor of
the Exchequer was not anticipated in the business plan.
32. New in post, Ms Greening told us that an
overall transport strategy would emerge from work on the sustainable
framework for aviation, rail reform and the review of the Highways
Agency: "You will see the overall strategy emerge over the
period that those processes take to come to fruition".
She later said:
I recognise that the development of [a] holistic
vision for transport that draws all the various threads together
into one space may have some value and will be considering the
benefits of such an approach.
Our scrutiny of the DfT's annual
report and the financial information it publishes reinforces our
view that an overall strategy for transport is needed.
The paucity of information about performance in the annual report
is because there is no agreed way of measuring the department's
performance, except to tick off completed actions in the business
plan. It might be thought that the various indicators chosen by
the department are a way of measuring performance, but the DfT
does no more than publish the bare data. It has not explained
why the indicators matter or in which direction the Government
would like them to go. Answering these questions would go a long
way to providing the DfT with a strategy. We were pleased to see
that the new Secretary of State saw the force in our argument
and is considering the benefits of drawing up an overall strategy.
that the DfT publish an overall strategy for transport, preferably
in or alongside the next departmental annual report.
47 Transport and the Economy, paragraphs 42-43. Back
Transport Committee, Transport and the economy: Government
response to the Committee's Third Report of Session 2010-12, Fourth
Special Report of 2010-12, HC 962, pp4-5. Back
Ev 28. Back