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National Physical Laboratory

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 3 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made towards the establishment of the National Physical Laboratory as an executive agency.

I am establishing the National Physical Laboratory—NPL—and an executive agency with effect from 3 July. The NPL is the eighth executive agency to be established within the DTI. Nearly 50 per cent. of the Department's staff are now working in agencies.Establishing the NPL as an executive agency will assist it to improve further the quality and cost effectiveness of its services. The primary measure of the NPL's performance will be its ability to satisfy its customers in terms of value for money and the quality of its work whilst fully covering its costs. I am also setting the NPL quality of service and efficiency targets as follows:

to improve to 90 per cent. by 1994–95 the percentage of calibrations completed within six weeks;
to complete at least 95 per cent. of contract research investigations on time over the period 1990–91 to 1994–95;
to increase by at least 3 per cent. the number of research milestones achieved annually per scientist over the period 1990–91 to 1994–95;
to reduce the cost of administrative support so that by 1994–95 it represents no more than 20 per cent. of NPL's full economic cost;
to increase the proportion of staff time attributed to programme-related work by 5 per cent. over the period 1990–91 to 1994–95;
to reduce the cost of NPL per member of project staff by 2 per cent. per annum over the period 1990–91 to 1994–95; and
to secure a combination of output efficiency and cost reduction measures which, taken together, represent a requirement on NPL to improve its overall efficiency by more than 2 per cent. a year over the period 1990–91 to 1994–95.