HC Deb 09 July 1984 vol 63 cc371-2W
Mr. Maples

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps have been taken by his Department since May 1979 to improve its efficiency; what has been the result; what further steps are currently being taken to improve efficiency; what the results are expected to be; and what output criteria have been developed by his Department to help measure its efficiency.

Sir Keith Joseph

The Department's plans for improving its own financial management were set out in the Government's White Paper "Financial Management in Government Departments" (Cmnd. 9058) in November 1983. Developments since then will be outlined in the further report to be published later this month.

The Department has carried out efficiency scrutinies into its administration of teachers' pensions, student awards, Her Majesty's Inspectorate, and grants for non-maintained colleges as well as into the control of its running costs generally. In addition, there is a continuing programme of staff inspection, organisation and method studies and internal audit. These scrutinies and programmes have identified areas for improvements in efficiency as well as, in some cases, suitable performance indicators or staff savings. Staff numbers in the Department have fallen by just over 9 per cent. between April 1979 and April 1984, equivalent to a saving of some £3.5 million per annum at present prices.

Work in hand to improve the Department's efficiency includes application of new technology (which should yield significant further manpower savings); development of a financial management information system in line with FMI principles to improve control and accountability; and efficiency studies of common service operations.

Forward to