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Departmental Management

Volume 210: debated on Thursday 25 June 1992

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To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what further plans he has to introduce business discipline and entrepreneurial methods into the management of Government departments.

The Government are committed to improving management in government for the benefit of customers, taxpayers and staff by drawing upon a wide range of proven management practices. The next steps initiative has already made use of many such practices: performance pay; businesslike reports and accounts; clear accountability; customer surveys; trading funds; and the financial flexibility to carry money between financial years. And many agency chief executives with business experience have been appointed following open competition. About half the civil service is already operating along next steps lines and the aim is that all the executive functions of government will, so far as practicable, be operating along these lines by the end of 1993.The citizens charter will place additional requirements on Government Departments to become consumer orientated, including published standards of service; consultation with users in setting those standards; greater openness and an end to anonymity; and improved systems for responding when things go wrong.The citizens charter also calls for a more direct link between performance and reward. I and my colleagues therefore intend to ensure that performance pay schemes are introduced throughout the civil service and that the process of delegating management responsibility for the civil service from the Office of Public Service and Science and the Treasury to Departments and agencies continues. In addition, in line with the commitments in the "Citizen's Charter" White Paper and its companian "Competing for Quality", all Departments and agencies are currently seeking to take forward the Government's market testing initiative and extend competitive tendering to new areas closer to the heart of government.In all of this work I am able to draw directly upon the business experience of the citizens charter panel of advisers, chaired by Sir James Blyth, and the efficiency unit, led by Sir Peter Levene.