CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1. One of the most important tasks of government
is to provide clear, truthful and factual information to citizens.
The accurate and impartial communication of information about
government polices, activities and services is critical to the
democratic process. Government communications embrace two separate
but complementary areas of activityGovernment communication
with the media, and Government communication directly with the
2. In recent years, governments have had to re-assess
how they approach the media and the public because of changes
in expectations and demands from both these groups. New technology
has led to an ever-larger media with a 24-hour appetite to feed,
and has also made it considerably easier to communicate directly
with the public, which in turn has changed public expectations
about access to information.
3. One result has been that the size and cost
of Government communications have grown considerably in recent
years. This growth means that it is more important than ever to
scrutinise this area and ensure that it is effective and delivering
value for money.
4. The last external review of Government communications
took place in 2003-04 and was conducted by Sir Robert Phillis,
then Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group. Since that review,
there have been some significant changes to the structure and
focus of Government communications.
5. At the beginning of this inquiry, we called
for evidence on whether the reforms since Sir Robert's Review
have resulted in a more effective system of communications. The
purpose of this report is to consider what progress has been made
since the Review and to make recommendations for further improvements
in specific areas.
6. The membership of the Committee is set out
at Appendix 1. We received valuable written and oral evidence
from the witnesses listed at Appendix 2.