§ Mrs. Curtis-Thomas
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if the quinquennial review of The Buying Agency has been completed; and if the completed quinquennial review report will be made public. 
§ Mr. Kilfoyle
The Quinquennial Review of The Buying Agency, which I announced on 29 October 1998, has now been completed. Cabinet Office, with the help of its consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, has considered the performance of the Agency over the last five years and the options for the future of its function in the context of the Government's policy on civil procurement.
TBA's main aims are to increase the volume of goods and services procured and to generate a return on capital employed through its Trading Fund. An evaluation of its performance over the five year period 1994–98 showed that over the first four years sales and income performance had been disappointing, due mainly to a substantial change in the Agency's market. Over the period as a whole, TBA met six of its thirteen financial targets, three of nine efficiency and productivity targets, six out of ten customer satisfaction targets and all nine targets for measures of internal quality and environmental management. The evaluation concluded that better measures and targets were needed to assess the efficiency and added value of the Agency's work.
A review of prior options rejected abolition and privatisation which would deprive government of an instrument for central procurement. The consultants 606W considered that TBA's purchasing and energy procurement services have sufficient potential to justify retention of the whole Agency and therefore recommended that its agency status should continue subject to certain changes in business practice. The Review also concluded that the merger of TBA's functions with another department or agency was a matter for the review of civil procurement being conducted by Peter Gershon.
Having considered the recommendations of the Review, I have decided that TBA should remain as an executive agency following the satisfactory completion of a comprehensive programme of short term business improvements aimed at developing its relationships with customers and suppliers and demonstrating the savings obtainable from its central purchasing. From 1 January 2000, it will become an executive agency of the new Office of Government Commerce on which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is making a separate statement.
I am placing a summary of the consultants' report on prior options in the Libraries of the House.