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How is this different from the National Audit Office or Edward Leigh's Public Affairs Committee? We don't need more bureaucracy to tackle bureaucracy.

Make a real difference at a stroke. Leave the EU.

In private industry we always try new things to see if we get better, more cost-efficient results, and it is good to see a suggestion that could work well for the Civil Service.

I would hope however that this independent watchdog is not fully staffed with civil servants, but has many people working for it from other industries that themselves have had to make adjustments, efficiencies and savings to bring their experience to good use for the tax payers benefit

And who set up the Audit Commission exactly?

Is the Tory party so desperate to re-invent itself that it's forgetting to check what quangos it set up in the 90s?


Sounds like the Ministry of Adminastrative Affairs to me.

Run by one Jim Hacker perhaps?

I quite like the idea, but as always we have to be sure that any savings which are found are not penny wise but pound stupid.

This is probably a good idea... but it reminds me of a Yes Minister in which a quango is set up to monitor and enforce the efficiency and honesty of other quangos...

This could up just adding another layer of bureaucracy and cost- it must be implemented well.

"plans to introduce financial incentives for civil servants to save money".

That is fine, if real savings do accrue.

What is not acceptable is the award of bonuses for those who are merely carrying out their job. The old civil service would have been horrified at the thought of being "bribed" to do their job properly. They had a pride in providing the nation with a first class administration.

What would help avoid so much wastage, would be a genuine attempt at "joined-up government", where legislation is not rushed through as with Blair (especially when all that is needed is to implement an existing law). It requires more careful thought and scrutiny by experts to try and avoid having unintended consequences.

If the thing starts with calling time on the European quagmire, de-Quango-izes the UK, then restructures Whitehall, and can be instrumental in bringing forth savings in local authority spending and wastage in the police service, NHS, education and central government including putting a stop to over-the-top expenses and other perks for government minister and our Lordships, which results in no loss of services and lower local taxes and income taxes, and can then sack itself because it's done its job and doesn't want to be a burden on the taxpayers, then I'm all up for it as long as it isn't there more than 6 weeks of taking office and doesn't need whopping great sums of money itself.

Or, we could get John Redwood to do it and save another few bob whilst giving him a real job to do to match his skills and knowledge.

DCMX and peter have made both the salient points

Most of this comes from Brussels and we are not allowed not to spend it. Until someone develpos some resolve on that central point its all verbiage

Secondly we really dont need a separate unit just change the terms of reference of the NAO and sack the current NuLabour boss. A quango to control public spending is an oxymoron which accentuates the last two syllables.

Hang on. On the one hand Francis Maude is saying civil servants need to take more risks. On the other hand George Osborne is saying anyone found to have wasted money (ie take a risk that hasn't paid off) will be sacked.

Joined up thinking lads?

It' a discussion of possible ideas. The Conservative Party is not yet in Government. This is not cast in stone but excellent that such matters are being looked at and considered.
Bureaucracy equals high taxation and in the case of The EU, accounts not signed off. Is the answer to do or consider nothing? I think not.

This is a daft idea. It will just add another layer of bureaucracy and will produce no savings whatsover. At this point it will be quietly shelved.

Get into power and then start closing down quangos, ministries and departments.

Managerialism has failed. We need Thatcherism again.

Another silly idea by a naive and inexperienced politico.

As has already been pointed out, we already have the NAO; is Frances Maude unaware of its existence or does he think we are so stupid that we don’t know about it?

Anyway, what constitutes “waste” and what id “good value” is ultimately a political decision for which the Ministers of the Crown should bear responsibility and the electorate should judge them by their deeds and misdeeds.

They could stop the punishment of managers who do not spend all their budget. We have councils and quangos throwing money at anything that can be invoiced by March 29th to avoid coming in under budget and having next year's budget cut.

Also the Tory team should read some John Seddon, sound practical advice to save money in public service. Tested on the ground, proven to save money and increase customer satisfaction - doesn't please the box-tickers.

ICM Poll finally out.


Cons up 6 points on last ICM poll.

I’m afraid the thinking behind this (as reported in the two threads) is coming across as muddled. Permanent Secretaries are “accounting officers” for their departments and have to appear regularly before the Public Accounts Committee to account for their departments’ performance. How would a new fiduciary duty introduce anything different?

Instead of a rapid response team –which sounds like tinkering and short-termism, what we need is something much bigger and more strategic: a root and branch review of what government does. The process is sometimes called zero based budgeting or colloquially as “drains up”. For example, how much of the vast amount spent on benefits and tax credits is really necessary? Are ministers’ showcase projects going to bring real benefits or will they be white elephants? Let’s see if we can have a bonfire of all the quangos. These are issues which are ultimately decided by Ministers as they make their policies.

Running government departments efficiently is a second order issue, once you're clear about what your policy aims are. That doesn’t mean to say it should not be done. Usually staffing and accommodation are the two biggest costs. But it seems to me a mistake to be asking “are we doing this efficiently?” before we ask questions like “should we be doing this at all?” or “is there a better, cheaper way of helping X, promoting Y etc?”

My message would be 1. Design good, cost-effective policies; 2. Put much more emphasis on efficient delivery – it shouldn’t be hard after Labour’s record of promises and announcements ad nauseam, but no delivery

The comment above by Francis Maud is very important and generaly correct. Talk of the Audit Office misses the point, the point should be that financial efficiency is built in everywhere from the start. Also it is worth remembering auditors are for checking the figures rather than the efficiency of the figures. Recommend everyone reads the document first.

However, the blunt fact is that the only real way to save money is to stop doing things, I am not sure this is covered by the proposal.

What function will this perform that the NAO or the Public Accounts Committee doesnt? This along with the idea of a Budget watching organisation (forgotten the same its so pointless) has no use at all. Its the responsibility of the Ministers. This is the same mistake made twice.

Spending to save doesnt work in every way. The care system yes, bureaucratic reduction no. Fourth mistake in just over a week. What on earth is going on with the Tories at the moment?

If this new watchdog are successful in their task, there'll be no more waste and it'll have to be disbanded. The civil servants at the watchdog will have a vested interest in maintaining a steady state of waste!

Why don't we just cut some budgets and then Departments won't have any choice but to find savings?

Again, agree with the comments made by Martin Wright. This policy is simply silly, for the reasons outlined.

The key here is to overcome the information asymmetry that naturally exists between the frontline spending departments and the budgetary/ audit functions as excercised by the Treasury and NAO respectively.

One way of doing this is to permanently embed external auditors into the central finance/ vfm teams that most departments run, and make these positions independent by statute. This way you get a near real-time view of what's going right/ wrong in how departments are spending their money. And this would serve better than the public morality play which typifies the average NAO departmental audit and subsequent PAC hearing.

This would work better than the hive of activity which meets an incoming external team, and then which reverts back to the norm after their departure. Sounds like auditors-on-call - very silly.

This idea could be a real winner if properly managed. Many public servants would be only too pleased to have their lives made easier by a reduction in senseless 'initiatives' and red tape.

Police and local authority representatives have complained about the glut of initiatives that catch headlines but are murder to work with. HMRC staff are frustrated by the continual complication of the tax system.

One fairly modest-ranked civil servant I know was good at her job on temporary promotion, but was denied the appointment because of obscure and tortuous selection procedures.

Under New Labour, the public service garden has grown full of weeds. If public sector workers were given personal incentives and could see their suggestions resulting in real investment in services, they might become natural conservatives?

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