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Government Communication

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 23 June 2011

I am today announcing reforms to the organisation of Government Communication.

The changes, which will lead to the closure of the Central Office of Information, will further improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Government communications.

They follow the introduction of spending controls on advertising and marketing in June last year. This led to a 68% reduction in external spend through the COI from £532 million in 2009-10 to an estimated £168 million in 2010-11. In parallel, Government Departments have reduced their number of in-house communications staff by around a quarter, and their budgets by a half.

The reforms are designed to consolidate those reductions, while ensuring that the remaining spend on advertising and marketing is better co-ordinated and executed.

The changes will:

Strengthen central co-ordination, prioritisation and strategic planning of communications across Government;

Put in place a new governance structure to increase accountability and transparency and to drive collective responsibility. This will include the appointment of an executive director, and the establishment of a communications delivery board;

Create a specialist communications procurement unit under the leadership of the Government Procurement;

Enable Government to explore how they can best capitalise on the capability which exists in communications across Government, through a programme of reviews;

Explore the development of a shared communications delivery pool for certain specialist services; and for a small number of specialist marketing hubs.

These proposals will constitute the Government’s response to the former permanent secretary for Government Communication’s “Review of government direct communication and the role of COI”.