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Report cover showing kitchen utensils

Benchmarking and market testing the ongoing services component of PFI projects

“It is important that public officials test the cost and quality of facilities services to get value for money during the life of a PFI contract. My report highlights lessons in how value-testing should be carried out. In particular, public officials must have the necessary skills, must promote vigorous competition when value testing, and they must have a full understanding of whether and how the private sector’s price and service proposals offer value for money.”

The report recommends that the recent Treasury guidance be taken up by departments and that the Treasury should continue liaising with departments to identify suitable cost data to use in benchmarking. The NAO also urges that further steps should be taken to compare the cost and quality of facilities services under the PFI with conventional outsourcing experience.

Published:
6 Jun 2007
Report cover showing a Post Office van

BERR’s oversight of the Post Office Network Change Programme

“The network change programme has been implemented in a way which has met most of its targets and the closures are nearly complete with 98 per cent already done. But communication around the programme could have been better, and there is still work to do to complete the late running Outreach services, which are designed to provide facilities to communities where conventional post offices have been closed.”

1. In May 2007 the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform approved plans to close up to 2,500 post offices run by sub-postmasters, partly offset by at least 500 new Outreach services, leaving a network of around 12,000 outlets. The closures are known as the Network Change Programme, which is part of a larger plan aimed at returning Post Office Ltd to profitability by 2010-11, after allowing for a £150 million annual Government subsidy. This plan also includes action to improve efficiency and Post Office Ltd’s financial performance, and to sustain revenues, in part by developing significant new revenue streams. The plan is being supported by funding of up to £1.7 billion over five years from BERR, including the £150 million annual subsidy payment in recognition of the social and economic role that post offices play.

2. Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.

3. The Comptroller and Auditor General is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 900 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of Government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources. This report has been made by Tim Burr, who was Comptroller & Auditor General until 31 May 2009. He was succeeded by Amyas Morse on 1 June 2009.

Published:
5 Jun 2009
Report cover showing illustration of people holding laptops

Better Public Services through e-government

“A significant amount of taxpayers’ money is being spent on delivering public services through electronic means. We have found examples of innovative practice but there is much to do to realise the full potential from using internet technology and ensure a sufficient number of people use public services delivered electronically. The major challenge is to get services on-line and to encourage and enable people to use them. Otherwise the considerable potential gains in departments’ efficiency will not be delivered and large amounts of public money will have been wasted.”

Published:
4 Apr 2002
Report cover showing illustration on business man on a spring

Better Regulation: Making Good Use of Regulatory Impact Assessments

Regulatory impact assessments (RIA) have helped contribute to better policy making and reducing the costs to business according to a National Audit Office report published today. It concludes that while there are many examples of good practice in the process of preparing RIAs across Whitehall, there is room for improvement. Presenting the report to Parliament, … Read more

Published:
15 Nov 2001
Report cover showing the Diamond Synchrotron

Big science: Public investment in large scientific facilities

“The introduction of a shared plan covering all the Research Councils is beginning to deliver new large facilities which will be available to scientists from across the research base. Improvements are needed however, if the benefit of the current planned £1.2 billion investment in scientific facilities is to be maximised. Before a project is approved, the range of scientific, industrial and economic benefits should be consistently specified.

“The full financial impact of a facility also needs to be better understood to make sure that only those projects which are sustainable in the long term are selected. More consistent application of Government-wide project review procedures and greater sharing of procurement practices would help teams to deliver timely and economical projects.”

Published:
24 Jan 2007

Board evaluation questionnaire

Public sector Boards must conduct an annual performance appraisal and Board members may find it helpful to complete this questionnaire as part of the process.

Published:
1 Sep 2009