Headlines: March 10th, 1999

John Jay writing in the Sunday Times Business News urged Chancellor Gordon Brown to appoint a chief operating officer for government to increase efficiency. He argued that adopting best private sector practice could achieve savings of up to one fifth. This contrasts with the planned efficiency saving of some 2% annually for the period up to 2002.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said there is no intention to appoint a chief operating officer, because the task of driving up efficiency is being approached in a different way. The Modernising Government White Paper, due in three weeks, will set out the long term strategy for securing greater effectiveness and higher efficiency. Whitehall departments have been set efficiency savings targets and these are embodied in Public Service Agreements. In addition the recently appointed Public Services Productivity Panel, will bring private sector expertise to Whitehall.

The focus for the Panel’s work is on ensuring that new government investment such as the extra 40 billion pounds for health and education brings modern, high quality services. The panel is chaired by Alan Milburn, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and includes leading figures from the world of business and audit.