7. As HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office recognise, improving planning and performance across government is a key priority, but one which involves many challenges and will not be easily resolved. Our recommendations to help address these challenges are as follows:
a)HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office, working together, should now set out a vision of how the overall approach to how government plans and manages its business will ensure value for money across government, and a plan for how they will get to that state at least in time for the next Spending Review. This should include:
i)how individual processes, including spending reviews and SDPs, will be integrated to improve government’s ability to deliver value for money, underpinned by rapid progress with the Financial Management Review;
ii)how both government and taxpayers can use all the different public information (including the Spending Review, SDPs, Annual Reports, and Estimates) as a package, to see what government is planning, how much it is spending, and what it is achieving, against a consistent set of objectives which cover both the implementation of new policies and programmes and “business as usual”;
iii)how the quality of planning and management in different departments will be brought up to a consistently high standard; and
iv)how the approach can accommodate both the long-term view needed for many government projects and programmes, and the flexibility needed to meet any new administration’s shorter-term commitments.
b)HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office should work with departments on practical ways to improve joined-up planning across government, to bring planning and delivery out of the confines of departmental boundaries.
c)HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office should regularly report on how the Cabinet Implementation Taskforces are improving delivery.
d)HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office, and all departments, should make sure that SDPs are kept “live” and are central to any discussions about reprioritisation and related funding decisions. Departments should update published SDPs to reflect recent changes in responsibilities and priorities by the end of the 2016–17 financial year at the latest.
e)For the benefit of both Parliament and the public, departments should publish the same up to date information about performance that they use for monitoring themselves, subject to any national security or similar essential restrictions. There should be regular public reporting of government’s performance, at least twice yearly, to adequately provide the transparency on performance that was lost when the mid-year reporting to Parliament was dropped.
21 November 2016