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Agricultural Scientific Services

Volume 205: debated on Monday 9 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about his plans to establish the agricultural scientific services of the Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department as an executive agency.

I have decided that, under the "next steps" initiative, the agricultural scientific services will become an executive agency from 1 April 1992. The agency will be called the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency—SASA —and will continue to be part of the Scottish Office Agriculture and Fisheries Department.For 1992–93, the first year of operation, I have set the following key performance targets for SASA:

development of a full accruals accounting system by April 1993;
completion of 95 per cent. of all scientific tests and analyses within the timetable set by the customers;
evaluation of quality assurance schemes for all laboratory activities leading to accreditation during 1993–94;
achievement of at least 1½ per cent. efficiency gain;
establishment of base line figures for quantitative indices of performance including (eg unit cost per sample; cost per scientist direct hour; staff utilisation) including the development of a comprehensive work-recording system, leading to an average efficiency gain for these indices of 11/2 per cent.;
charges for charged services to be set at full economic cost to achieve full cost recovery; make the progress necessary in the first year to ensure the implementation of full customer-contractor arrangements by 1 April 1994;
by a formalised process, secure the views of all customers on the quality of the work done by end March 1993.