To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further progress he has made towards establishing executive agencies in his Department under the Government's "next steps" initiative; and if he will make a statement.
I am pleased to announce that I shall be establishing two new executive agencies on 1 April Drivers, Vehicles and Operators Information Technology —DVOIT—and the Transport Research Laboratory—TRL. I will delegate to the chief executives clear responsibilities for improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service. These delegations will be set out in the agencies' framework documents which will be published on 1 April; I shall place copies in the Library.Each year, I shall set both agencies challenging targets, which will form part of the agencies' annual business plans. DVOIT's business plan for 1992–93 will be commercial in confidence and will not therefore be published. However, the agency's key targets will be published on 1 April, and I shall then place a copy in the Library. TRL's business plan will be published on 1 April, and I shall place a copy in the Library. Both agencies will also publish annual reports; again copies will be put in the Library.DVOIT was formerly the information technology arm of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. It has about 500 staff based in Swansea. It will continue to provide IT services to DVLA and to other parts of the Department of Transport, but on a more commercial basis. It will have to compete with external suppliers of IT services for new contracts within my Department. It will also be able to bid for contracts in other parts of the public sector and in the private sector. Agency status will allow DVOIT to develop a more commercial style of operation and, in particular, establish more formal contractual relationships with its customers. I hope this will pave the way for eventual privatisation in a few years' time.Following an open competition, I have appointed Mr. David Evans, formerly PSA's director of information technology, to be DVOIT's first chief executive.DVOIT's key targets for 1992–93 are to: fulfil service level agreements with its customers; cover full costs with income from customers; reduce prices for existing services to current customers by RPI-3 per cent.; increase revenue per employee by 10 per cent. a year; achieve an annual rate of return of 6 per cent. on total assets employed.
TRL has about 640 staff based in Crowthorne, Berkshire. It will offer research services to the Department of Transport and to other customers, both in the public and private sectors. From 1 April, TRL will be untied from the Department, with responsibility for commissioning and funding research work passing to customers in policy divisions within the Department who will increasingly place contracts for new work by competitive tender.
Following an open competition, I have appointed Mr. John Wootton, formerly chairman of Wootton Jeffreys Consultants Ltd., to be TRL's first chief executive.
TRL's key targets for 1992–93 are: 90 per cent. of projects to be completed to customer satisfaction; net revenue per person year to be a minimum of £40,000; production costs as a percentage of total costs to be greater than 55 per cent.; to recover full economic costs from revenue, while meeting the net control total in supply estimates.
This will increase to six the number of executive agencies in my Department. Nearly 70 per cent. of the staff employed by my Department will be working in executive agencies, which is good news for taxpayers, customers and the staff themselves.
I wish the chief executives and their staff every success for the future.