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Government Transparency and Accountability

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2020

Since 2010, the Government have been at the forefront of opening up data to allow Parliament, the public and the media to hold public bodies to account.

Despite the need to reprioritise resources to respond to the covid-19 pandemic, tremendous progress continues to be made this year by central Government Departments in publishing core transparency data. Such online transparency is crucial to delivering value for money, cutting waste and inefficiency, and ensuring every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the best possible way.

The Government will continue to look at how the range of information published by the Government can be improved and made as useful as possible to the public, press and Parliament.

The following subject areas include documents and information that the Government are due to publish, or which have recently been made available.

Ministerial Transparency

The Government are today publishing an updated list of ministerial responsibilities.

Transparency on Senior Officials and Special Advisers

An annual list of salary details for senior public officials in Departments and arm’s length bodies earning £150,000 and above will be published today. These Government organisations need to be able to attract high-calibre people who can deliver quality services and drive forward projects in a way that represents true value to the taxpayer. However, very high salaries in the public sector must be justified, so it is important that we publish this information and allow it to be scrutinised.

In line with legislation, an annual list of current special advisers and their costs is being published. Special advisers are a critical part of the team supporting Ministers. They add a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to Ministers while reinforcing the impartiality of the permanent civil service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support.

Transparency in the Civil Service

The Government are publishing new annual figures on gender pay differentials across the civil service. Our gender pay gap continues to narrow and is still significantly lower than the private sector, but we know there is more to do so continue to work hard to tackle this. In recent years we have introduced blind recruitment, advertised all jobs as flexible and continued to review recruitment policies to ensure fairness and equality.

Demographic data of the 2019 civil service people survey, an annual survey of our employees’ attitudes and experiences of working in the civil service has also been published. The employee engagement index was 63% in the 2019 people survey, the highest it had been since the survey began in 2009.

Transparency on spending

Departments have published routine prompt payment data, demonstrating our continued commitment to supporting businesses by ensuring they are paid on time. Departments will also be publishing routine spend data.

The Government have begun publishing the top three key performance indicators for central Government’s most important contracts.

Transparency in public procurement

Transparency is a key principle of public procurement. Openness underpins accountability for public money, anti-corruption and the effectiveness of procurements. Long planned reforms in our Green Paper on transforming public procurement, published today, will ensure open and transparent contracting.

Transparency on delivery

HM Treasury will today be publishing new priority outcomes for each UK Government Department. These capture the Government’s long-term policy objectives, from reducing crime to improving education standards across the country.

These outcomes and metrics include cross-cutting outcomes and shared metrics in areas where closer working between Departments would achieve better results. This reflects the Government’s commitment to breaking down silos and enabling stronger collaboration between Departments. Citizens will be able to track performance against finalised outcomes through public reporting.

Copies of associated documents are being placed in the Library of the House and will be published on gov.uk.

Further transparency publications will be published in the new year, in the usual way.

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