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Report cover showing illustration of men arranging a jigsaw puzzle

Purchasing Professional Services

“A significant amount of taxpayers’ money is spent on these services each year. We have found excellent examples of innovative practice but much more could be done to improve government purchasing. Implementing the changes we propose would free up at least £60 million a year for spending on public services”.

Published:
25 Apr 2001
Report cover showing a modern terrace house

Regulating Housing Associations’ Management of Financial Risk

“The Corporation has a good record in preventing serious financial failure in the sector, but risk in the sector is changing. Although the Corporation is reforming its approach, we recommend further steps to protect the interests of taxpayers and tenants.”

Housing associations registered with the Housing Corporation own or manage some 1.45 million homes, a third of the social housing stock in England, housing some 3.2 million people. Over £24 billion of public money has been invested in the sector and a further £1 billion a year is planned over the coming years. These associations, known as Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), provide housing at affordable rents for the homeless and people on low income or with special needs. RSLs are responsible for managing the variety of risks that they face, while the Corporation is responsible for regulating how well they do this. The Corporation has the complex task of seeking to ensure that tenants’ homes and taxpayers’ investments are protected, while also avoiding restriction on RSLs’ scope to engage in well-managed risk taking.

Published:
19 Apr 2001
Report cover showing Eurostar trains at Waterloo station

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions: The Channel Tunnel Rail Link

“It is apparent that, faced with a range of complex issues, the Department handled negotiations with LCR in a competent manner. The financing of the restructured project is fundamentally different to that envisaged in 1996, and so is the distribution of risks between the various parties now involved. There are a number of important lessons here for future PPPs, along with some specific points for the Department”.

Published:
28 Mar 2001
Report cover showing a ship at sea

Ship Surveys and Inspections

“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has a vital job to do in ensuring the high safety standards of UK-registered vessels and an often difficult job in seeking to raise the standards of foreign vessels visiting the UK. My report shows that the Agency generally carries out its role very well, but that there are steps it could take to make its surveys and inspections of vessels more effective.”

Published:
23 Mar 2001
Report cover showing a boat race

Measuring the Performance of Government Departments

“Good performance management can help Departments improve their effectiveness and promote accountability to public and Parliament. This report provides a series of case studies and key questions that Departments need to consider in specifying performance measures which support their objectives, in implementing performance measurement in a way which improves results and in collecting the data they need to manage and report on their performance.”

Published:
22 Mar 2001
Report cover showing jet aeroplanes

Ministry of Defence: Maximising the Benefits of Defence Equipment Co-Operation

“Defence equipment acquisition is an inherently complex and often expensive task. Co-operation adds another layer of complexity, but it offers economic, military, industrial and political benefits. In the past not all of these benefits have been secured. Co-operation is likely to become more important in the future and I welcome the initiatives being taken by MoD and its partners to improve the planning and execution of co-operation as well as helping in the restructuring and efficient operation of the defence industry. It is important that MoD involves other interested government departments and industry from the outset in deciding whether to co-operate and that it assesses whether the expected benefits are being achieved.”

1. The two main agreements are:

2. OCCAR is the Organisation Conjointe de Cooperation en matière d’Armement. It is a four nation (Germany, France, Italy, UK) armaments co-operation agency.

3. Capability Management is based on defining the outputs which users require in a broadly framed Statement of Need with the System Requirement (what the system must do to meet user needs) only specified when the main investment decision is taken. It thus provides a framework to align partners aspirations in given areas of military capability and discuss the possibility of cost, schedule and capability trade-offs to overcome differing timescale and funding commitments.

Published:
16 Mar 2001
Report cover showing firefighters lifting a woman over flood waters

Inland Flood Defence

A National Audit Office report today highlights research by MAFF that up to two million homes and buildings in England are in areas at risk of flooding. The key points in the report to Parliament by NAO head Sir John Bourn are that: while flood defences can reduce the risk or extent of damage, they … Read more

Published:
15 Mar 2001
Report cover showing a doctor talking to an elderly patient

The Medical Assessment of Incapacity and Disability Benefits

“This has been an innovative project for the Department of Social Security, involving the outsourcing of a service which is close to the department’s core business. The Benefits Agency medical service was underachieving and operated within tight resource constraints. Outsourcing has cut costs and speeded up the processing of the work, but the Department, with SEMA Group, must concentrate on improving the quality of assessments and customer service.

“Bottlenecks and delays throughout the system for paying these benefits also need to be addressed. The aim should be to ensure that disability benefits are speedily paid to those entitled to them, as well as reducing losses to the public purse from payments to those who are no longer eligible for benefit.”

Published:
9 Mar 2001