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Financial Management Initiative

Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 8 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the effect on his Department of the financial management initiative.

The Northern Ireland Office has implemented a programme of work to improve the value for money obtained from the Department's expenditure. Line managers have been given greater responsibility for, and better information on, expenditure in their areas of responsibility. This includes a management information system under which managers set objectives and targets and identify output and performance measures. The redesign and computerisation of the Department's accounting and financial information systems has accompanied the delegation of responsibility for the management of expenditure to line managers, including scope to redeploy resources across programme and running cost budgets.The Northern Ireland Civil Service, in parallel with developments in the Home Civil Service, has also engaged in a programme to improve financial management and efficiency by a variety of means. These include the use of top management systems to bring together information on objectives, resources, and performance, the development of computerised financial information and accounting systems to assist in budgeting and control of departmental expenditure and in the progressive application of the cost centre concept, and new initiatives on training and personnel management.The practical effects of the FMI within my area of responsibility can be seen in two particular respects. First, there are real long-term benefits emerging in the form of enhanced managerial awareness of the need to define clear objectives for the use of resources, to use these to set challenging targets and to measure performance against targets through the use of relevant management information. Secondly, this work has already led to greater efficiency in a number of areas where progress can more readily be quantified. Examples include a projected 5 per cent. decrease in energy consumption in Northern Ireland prisons, a reduction of£7·3 million in Northern Ireland electricity generating costs, a 5 per cent. reduction in unit costs per student at agricultural colleges, a Province-wide reduction in water leakage levels from 21 to 26 litres per property per hour to 13·19 litres by 1988–89, and the redeployment of £28 million in the Northern Ireland Health Service over the next five years to higher priority areas through better use of resources.