Public AdministrationSupplementary written evidence submitted by Cabinet Office (PROC 40)

Response to Q593 Apprenticeships and Procurement

The DWP supply chain commitment to apprentices may well be applicable in specific circumstances in central government, and we are happy for the experience and outcomes here to be shared more widely.

However, we are not convinced that it would be appropriate to impose a blanket requirement across all procurements. Too often in the past the procurement process has been loaded with multiple and, sometimes, competing policy objectives. This can result in lengthy, complex processes and onerous reporting requirements which deter SME and voluntary, charitable and social enterprise sector suppliers from participating. This leads to poor value for money for the taxpayer. Securing value for money must be the primary objective in public procurement activities.

It should, therefore, be for individual departments to decide if and when requirements relating to apprenticeships should be included in procurements on a case by case basis.

Response to Q1034 on the “Tight-Loose” Approach

The Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) was established in partnership with HM Treasury to work across departmental boundaries where this will tackle waste, improve efficiency and reform the way services are delivered.

ERG operates on a “tight-loose” model to ensure tighter control and oversight where collective action is needed for effectiveness and efficiency, whilst pushing responsibility for delivery ever closer to the front line. This balance is essential in driving out cost and increasing productivity.

ERG has introduced tight central control over key areas of Government spending and activity, including procurement of common goods and services, IT infrastructure, property, major projects and standards for management information. This allows Government to harness economies of scale, acting as a single customer to drive up standards, reduce cost, improve interoperability and manage risk effectively.

In other areas we are devolving power and breaking down the traditional central monopoly on providing public services to ensure that they reflect local realities. This is achieved, for example, by facilitating new commercial models and mutuals and supporting departments to redesign their services around the end user, drawing on capability in the Government Digital Service.

Response to Q1037 on Savings

Cabinet Office has made steady progress during 2010–11 and 2011–12 in enabling departments to achieve savings within their current budgets.

A significant amount of work has been completed with NAO to validate the savings that have been achieved. This was reflected in NAO’s report on ERG published on 17 April 2013 which stated:

“The Committee of Public Accounts concluded in October 2011 that £3.7 billion of departments’ total spending reductions of over £7.9 billion in 2010–11 were in the area of savings ERG had targeted, in line with ERG’s own estimate of its impact. And overall, we had confidence in ERG’s reported savings of £5.5 billion in 2011–12.”

Francis Maude

Prepared 18th July 2013