(2) with reference to the presentation entitled Policy Costing Overview given at the Financial Management and Steering Group meeting on 23 March, what steps his Department has taken to make progress in each of the six areas identified as improvement objectives; what specific problems had been identified in each of these six areas; and how he is monitoring the progress made in each of these six areas.
Action was taken during 2006 on the seven challenges identified in January 2006 in the Department’s restructuring exercise. This was summarised in chapter 11 of the Department’s departmental report 2007 and included:
development of the new Policy and Strategy Directorate;
action to strengthen the challenge role of finance, including appointments to new posts of group and business finance controllers in support of the Director General, Finance and Investment;
creation of new Directorates for Commissioning and for Provider Development;
appointment of a Director General for Social Care, to lead a new directorate;
expanded membership for the Departmental Management Board (DMB), and development of a new structure of board committees, to strengthen corporate governance; and
new and stronger corporate support arrangements for the Department, based on a business partnering model.
Further changes to the Department’s top structure have been made in 2007 consequent on the decision to split the Department’s permanent secretary and NHS chief executive roles and to clarify lines of accountability and responsibility. Action on the six areas for business improvement identified in 2006-07 continued into 2007-08, as set out in the Department’s business plan published in March 2007.
The Department’s recent capability review has highlighted the areas that need further attention. The Department has set out its action plan, including timed deliverables and metrics, in the development plan published by the permanent secretary in September 2007. The departmental board will monitor progress against the plan, and will keep Ministers informed.