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Goods And Services (Payments)

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will list each of the functions relating to payment for goods or services supplied for which her Department is responsible indicating the management systems purchased, all sub-contractors involved in the work, co-operative arrangements with other Departments; and the costs of the systems and processes in the last year for which figures are available. [12570]

The majority of this Department's payments for goods and services are generated via integrated computerised accounting systems, either by bank transfers (CHAPS and BACS) or as system generated payable orders. All invoices are the subject of specific checks and authorisations in accordance with standard Government accounting practice, with responsibilities for verification and certification separated from the actual process of payment.The Department's primary accounting system is FAMIS (Financial Accounting Management Information System) and amounts due for payment are picked up overnight via the Central Payments Package and issued accordingly. The FAMIS system is based on Millennium software, substantially modified to meet Departmental needs.The Department does not use sub-contractors for payment work although a number of private companies providing facilities management for Departmental accommodation receive invoices and undertake their initial processing prior to authorisation and payment through Departmental systems. The Department does not provide payment services to other Government Departments except where it is the major occupier of accommodation, when, under established service agreements, it may meet the initial costs and recover any balance due. The Department does not use payment systems provided by other Government Departments except where it is a minor occupier under the arrangements described above.A variety of circumstances can apply to individual payments each of which impact on the administrative cost, but high level information collected by the Department indicates that the total administrative cost of making each payment varies between £2.30 and £5.95. The accounts payable and cashier applications which support departmental payments form elements of much wider accounting packages and specific capital and development costs are therefore not readily available.