Headlines: March 5th, 1999

The 1998 Next Steps Report, just published, reveals that Executive Agencies did well in 1997/98. Performance improved in 52% of cases.

For the future targets may be more difficult to achieve, because performance monitoring has been radically changed with the introduction of Public Service Agreements. This the first time that long term strategic objectives have been set out for each area of Government and that expenditure has been linked to outcomes to give a clear view of what has been achieved for the money spent.

The Agreements set out over 500 targets across central government, including 350 new targets, so that it will be possible to monitor progress towards the strategic objectives. The aim is to produce annual savings of 8 billion pounds by 2002. The savings will be re-directed into front line services.

The Agreements are being used to drive the move towards joined up government by setting joint targets for departments and agencies. Criminal justice is one of the areas with joint targets.