Thursday, 21 July 2016

The proposal to take DBS to the market against the review of The Spending Review 2015 confirms the MOD has learned no lessons

Do the NAO reports on The Spending Review 2015 confirm our concerns that MoD, in relation to the proposals to outsource DBS, is simply cost cutting rather than developing strategic intelligent change that is in the best interest of defence and value for money? We think so!

The National Audit Office has today published its reports on The Spending Review 2015 and Government’s management of its performance: progress with single departmental plans. These cover two key elements of the way government plans and manages its business: the mechanism for HM Treasury and departments to agree the high-level financial plans for the parliament; and the latest approach to planning and reporting on departments’ objectives and performance.

A strong, enduring, integrated framework for planning into the medium-term and beyond would allow any government to: make achievable plans; know whether it is on track, adjust its approach where necessary; and provide clear accountability to Parliament. While government considers that it has in place effective arrangements, albeit with room for improvement, it is the NAO’s view that the set of current processes and guidance do not add up to such a framework, and the effects can be seen in examples of poor value for money and a lack of long-term, joined-up thinking.

"Time and again, we find that problems in the delivery of public services can be traced back to the way government goes about planning and managing business in pursuit of an administration’s policy objectives. Instead of an enduring framework that supports coherent strategic planning, effective business management and accountability, the current approach amounts to a collection of top-down, set-piece processes and guidance that fail to make the most of the understanding and expertise across government. We welcome the process improvements in the most recent Spending Review, and the signs of improvement in individual departments’ business planning, but government must make a deeper cultural change if it is to make a lasting difference to its performance, and narrow the gap in accountability and transparency. This is all the more important as a new administration, with redefined and urgent objectives, seeks to hit the ground running."

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 21 July 2016

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