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Departmental Cost-effectiveness

Volume 501: debated on Tuesday 1 December 2009

To ask the Solicitor-General what efficiency savings projects the Law Officers’ Departments put in place under the Operational Efficiency Programme; on what date each such project was initiated; how much each such project was expected to contribute to Departmental savings; how much had been saved through each such project on the latest date for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. (300939)

The Law Officers Departments account for one of the smallest budgets in Whitehall. In line with the Government’s OEP implementation plan, they have provided benchmarking data to HM Treasury across the range of OEP indicators.

The Law Officers Departments’ contribution to the Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP) is being delivered as part of their wider effort to deliver value for money, including their contribution to the Government’s target to deliver £35 billion in savings during the current comprehensive spending review period.

Under these arrangements a number of projects are planned or are already under way. In April it was announced that we would merge the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) to drive out economies of scale, minimise duplication and create a more flexible and resilient organisation which was better able to handle specialist and complex cases. RCPO and CPS will by July 2010 have merged into one prosecuting body delivering significant savings.

The Law Officers Departments are also reviewing their estates as part of the overall efficiency effort, with a view to rationalising accommodation as leases expire. The first major phase of the rationalisation will be to give up RCPO’s existing accommodation in New Kings Beam House when the lease on that property expires in December 2011. Work thereafter will enable the whole Law Officers Departments’ estate to be used more flexibly and cost-effectively in the future.

Additionally, the Treasury Solicitor’s Department (TSol) has upgraded its financial system and reviewed its financial processes so that the opportunities for efficiency provided by the new system can be fully exploited and these include outsourced invoice scanning with electronic authorisation. New procure-to-pay systems are being introduced, in line with the recommendations of the OEP, to improve controls over the procurement process, reduce costs and increase the opportunities for collaborative procurement.

The Law Officers Departments continue to work collectively to identify and deliver further opportunities for efficiency savings in OEP areas and are undertaking a review to ensure that they are best positioned to contribute to the £9 billion which will be delivered in the next spending period.