§ Mr. Edwards
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what key targets have been set for the Defence Bills Agency for 1998–99. 
§ Dr. Reid
Targets have been set for the Chief Executive of the Defence Bills Agency for the financial year 1998–99 in accordance with the Agency's aim of meeting the requirements of its Service Level Agreement with the Ministry of Defence in a manner which offers best value for money.395W
The roles of the Defence Bills Agency as defined in its Framework document are: the authorisation and payment of bills from MOD's suppliers and contractors; the invoicing and collection of MOD receipts; the maintenance of accounting records for the MOD central ledger; and the provision of financial management information to budget holders.
The Chief Executive's key targets for 1998–99 build on the high standards of service already achieved by the Agency since its formation in January 1996 and are as follows:
- 1. To pay 97 per cent. of correctly-presented bills within 11 working days of receipt and 100 per cent. within 30 calendar days.
- 2. To raise 100 per cent. of invoices within 5 working days of receipt of correctly-presented instruction.
- 3. To meet the criteria contracted for in the Service Level Agreement covering debt recovery, management information systems, maintenance of contract records, reduction of overpayments and clearance of credit notes. To deliver these services within the agreed price of £15.587 million for the financial year 1998–99.
- 4. To achieve a further efficiency improvement over that specified in the Service Level Agreement for 1998–99 of 21/2 per cent. in the bills process to staffing ratio. For 1997–98 the ratio was 6,395 bills processed for each member of staff. The target for 1998–99 is 6,555 bills processed for each member of staff.
- 5. To ensure that, by 1 January 1999, the Agency's internal financial systems are fully compliant with the Department's Resource Accounting and Budgeting system.