Finance Operating Model for Whitehall “almost ready”

29 Jan 16

Greg Hands has said the Treasury is close to agreeing a single Finance Operating Model that will apply across all of Whitehall.

Speaking at the Financial Management Reform conference in Birmingham yesterday, the chief secretary to the Treasury said introduction of a single system would make the government finance profession much more effective.

The change is part of the financial management reform programme, being implemented following a review of Whitehall’s financial management in 2013.

The review led to the creation of the post of director general for spending and finance held by Julian Kelly, as well as other changes to strengthen the finance profession across government.

Hands said the changes were intended to do five things – develop the skills of everyone working in Whitehall finance, create a pipeline of talent, share expertise, improve management information, and provide better understanding of spending in specific areas.

As part of these reforms, the Treasury had created a Costing Centre of Excellence, intended to make government better at forecasting what specific projects will cost, he said.

“We have a strategy in place for improving the data from which we make decisions – not least through ‘data sprints’, which are six-week projects to provide immediate insight into particular issues.

“Not least, we’re in the process of agreeing a Finance Operating Model for government. This will enable us to share expertise, and make the finance profession much more effective.”

Further reforms were likely, he added, as last November’s Spending Review had committed to creating standing teams to drive forward these reforms.

“Without getting the finances right, it’s extremely unlikely that in the future, we will be able to meet this country’s aspirations for the public services it receives.

“People demand more from government. They demand better. They demand services more quickly, and for longer. They want those services to be more accessible. And of course they also have to be affordable. Through your work, we can make that happen.”

In the speech, Hands praised the work of the finance profession across central government since 2010, saying it had been at the heart of many reforms to services, in addition to implementing the government’s deficit reduction programme.

The task of ensuring Spending Review settlements were delivered would make the work of the finance profession “only become more and more important”, he added.

“That’s why I regard it as essential that the civil service – right across the departments – has the best possible financial capacity and expertise,” he stated.

“Thank you for the hard work you have put in, over the last few years, to make sure we get the best possible bang for our buck.

“Getting the public finances in order has been one of our biggest areas of focus since 2010, to reduce the deficit – indeed, to eliminate it altogether. We’re here now to finish the job. And that’s precisely what we are doing.”

• David Allen, director of public spending and deputy head of government finance at the Treasury, speaks to Public Finance about the rising role of FDs in Whitehall

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