HC Deb 22 November 1982 vol 32 cc339-40W
Mr. Eggar

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list and describe the studies from within or without his Department relating to the effectiveness and efficiency of his Department together with the recommendations and action taken on those recommendations.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Department conducts a very wide range of studies related to the effectiveness and efficiency of its business. They include policy reviews, Rayner scrutinies, and centrally co-ordinated multi-Department reviews as well as the continuing work of staff inspections, management services, and internal audit staff. Such studies form an essential part of normal good management and have been given extra impetus by this Government's determination to cut out unnecessary work, simplify administration and, more generally, get the best value for the taxpayer's money.

Full details about all of these studies, and the action resulting from them, could be provided in this answer only at disproportionate cost. I will, however give some examples.

The Department has completed or has in hand several studies under the aegis of Sir Derek Rayner. Completed studies include:

Scrutiny area Examples of action taken
Administration of Teachers Pension Scheme (1979) Consolidation of DES' Darlington Office on one site; improved telecommunications between DES Darlington and DES London; review of relationship between DES Darlington and Paymaster General's Office (Crawley).
Government Statistical Service (1980 multi-department review) Reduction in number of volumes of statistics published by DES; review of data collected from local authorities; management accounting system introduced in DES' Statistics and Computing Services Branch.
Departmental Museums (1981) Introduction of legislation to achieve the major recommendation.

The staff inspection unit reviews all parts of the Department on a three-year cycle. Over the three years 1979–1982 there have been substantial changes in complement, regradings and reorganisation of branches as a result of the inspectors' work. A large number of 0 & M assignments are constantly in progress, increasingly in connection with proposals for the introduction of new technology.

The Department has also substantially reduced its complement since May 1979 as part of its contribution to meeting the Government's overall Civil Service manpower target of 630,000 for 1 April 1984, following a series of reviews of the scope for relaxtion of central controls and withdrawal from functions no longer deemed essential.

The Department has been participating in the multi-Departmental review of running costs and is currently reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of its financial management in the context of the Government's financial management initiative which was announced in Cmnd. 8616.

The objectives and effectiveness of the Department's policies and programmes are reviewed in the normal course of business. Special ad hoc reviews are commissioned as required.

The Department is additionally subject to the scrutiny of the Exchequer and Audit Department, and has recently reviewed and strengthened its own internal audit arrangements.