Efficiency controls were introduced across the whole of the department and its arm’s length bodies (ALBs) in May 2010 and the scope of these controls have been extended to include professional services. As the controls have been developed or amended the department has issued updated guidance both internally and to it ALBs.
Following a review of the efficiency controls instigated by Richard Douglas, Director General for Policy, Strategy and Finance, the department issued further guidance in July 2012 which reflected changes introduced with the objectives of:
- creating a single point of contact for all controls which would act as the link to the Efficiency and Reform Group in the Cabinet Office
- ensuring that all controls are adequately communicated, managed, tracked and reported
- streamlining the approvals and procurement processes, with target timescales for handling requests for approvals
- delivering greater delegation to ALBs (through earned autonomy) with assurance managed by DH to ensure that ALBs apply proper internal controls, maintain records and undertake reporting
The review applied to controls relating to consultancy, procurement, professional services, ICT and marketing and media but did not cover recruitment or staff related controls.
A summary of the position in relation to each of those controls has been set out:
The efficiency controls were introduced by government as part of a plan to secure some £6 billion of efficiency savings in 2010-11.
The controls placed immediate freezes on external recruitment, new consultancy spend, new ICT projects over £1 million and paid for communications, advertising and marketing activity. In addition, the government introduced tighter controls over procurement, property, pay and business travel. In March 2011, the Cabinet Office announced that the controls would remain until March 2015.