HC Deb 24 February 1999 vol 326 c285W
Ms Lawrence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what decisions he has taken on the findings of the review into the efficiency of the Office for National Statistics. [73284]

Ms Hewitt

Having considered the findings of the efficiency review of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and met with the trade unions to discuss their reactions, I have decided to accept the recommendations made by the efficiency review Steering Group.

The findings of the review indicate that there is scope within ONS to achieve efficiency savings rising to around £20 million per year. The achievement of such savings, which will be reinvested within ONS, will enable the Office to focus resources and management attention on improving the range and quality of the statistical information it produces. I have asked Dr. Tim Holt, the Director of ONS, to prepare and implement a programme of action designed to deliver these savings, in consultation with ONS staff and trade unions.

I am today publishing a copy of the full report which was commissioned from the consultants KPMG by the review Steering Group. The recommendations made by the Steering Group draw on many of the KPMG proposals, but they do not include them all. In particular, the potential savings identified as a result of the outsourcing of data collection and processing are not part of the package of efficiency savings which the Steering Group recommended.

I have also today accepted proposals from Dr. Holt to strengthen the senior management structure of ONS. This will involve the establishment of a restructured ONS Management Board comprising the Director of ONS and four other members: a Director of Economic Statistics, a Director of Social Statistics, a Director of Quality Assurance and Methodology, and Director of Finance and Corporate Services. This final post will be advertised externally, with business and commercial experience a key requirement.

These changes to the management structure of ONS reflect the importance which the Government attach to implementing this programme of work. Ensuring the quality of ONS outputs is a key part of the Government's commitment to enhance the integrity of official statistics.

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