Role of Whitehall finance directors boosted

13 Jun 13
Senior finance officers in Whitehall have been made responsible for all management information in their departments following an expert review.

The review, by Martin Read, former Logica chief executive and a member of the government’s efficiency and reform board, reported to ministers last year but its conclusions were only made public today.

His report, Practical steps to improve management information in government, calls on government departments to adopt common standards, so that spending can be compared more easily.

Due to the federal nature of Whitehall, departments have developed their own standards and ways of collecting data, making cross-departmental comparisons on procurement or human resources spending difficult, Read found.

‘Without accurate, timely and comparable management information on how money is spent, it is impossible to manage expenditure effectively,’ said Read.

‘Implementing the recommendations of my report will help senior ministers and civil servants set numerical objectives, hold management to account and drive operational improvements across government to the benefit of all.’

Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith said action was already under way to take forward a number of Read’s recommendations. These include: working with departments to simplify and strengthen the system of quarterly comparative data reporting; providing departments with best practice guidelines in order to bring in a through quality assurance regime; and establishing a cross-government management information profession to share knowledge and best practice.

Smith said: ‘In the past, the government never had a proper handle on how different parts of Whitehall spent public money. Yet improving how we collect, scrutinise and use data is vital in our efforts to strip out waste and work more efficiently. By regularly publishing data showing how we’re spending taxpayer money, departments and individuals can be held to account for the delivering of their objectives.

‘We are strengthening the role of finance directors, improving data collection, and scrutinising the information we collect with greater rigour.’

Last week, Lord Browne, Whitehall’s lead non-executive director, issued a report saying inconsistent and unclear finance standards were hampering reform.


CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?