Bonfire of the Quangos – shock news, not many burnt

by Peter Smith on October 14, 2010

The bonfire of the quangos has turned out to be more of a slight toasting of the quangos.  No definite savings identified for a start; not to my surprise, and I’m not criticising.  We’ve said it before: most ‘quangos’ do pretty essential stuff that someone has to do – the Legal Services Commission (LSC) being a great example that we discussed here.

So looking at the Cabinet Office list that came out today (and caused a huge crash of their website), many of the bodies that are genuinely ‘abolished’ are pretty small organisations; advisory councils and the like.  There are exceptions such as the Audit Commission, but many significant organisations survive, or are still under review, or the comment is along the lines of  “functions will be transferred into the parent Department” or “reconstituted as a committee of experts”.

In terms of bodies that have particular procurement interest or relevance, with my comments in italics:

Regional Development Agencies; “RDAs will be abolished and functions which are to be retained will be transferred to central or local government and others” (what does this mean for RIEPS?)

LSC - to be turned into an Agency (which Sir Ian Magee suggested before the election).

Central Office of Information Under consideration – Pending a review of Government advertising to be finalised by the end of November (they set up central government contracts in areas such as advertising).

Firebuy - Abolish body and transfer procurement functions to alternative suppliers, and residual functions to department (I hope their capable staff survive somewhere)

National Policing Improvement Agency – Currently considering which functions must be delivered nationally and where they should sit in a rationalised national policing landscape, as previously announced (well, glad that’s clear then…)

Partnerships for Schools- Under Consideration – Subject to the overarching review of Department for Education’s capital expenditure, to be completed in December 2010 (surprised it has survived – the body behind Building Schools for the Future)

So all of this isn’t contributing much to the budget deficit reduction; and it is not just the closure cost for those bodies that are going, it is the costs where quangos are being turned into something else.  Significant in some cases.  I’m beginning to think Michael Portillo may just be right.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Procurement Practitioner October 20, 2010 at 11:39 am

Not related to quangos but on the subject of exit costs……and the infamous aircraft carriers. I may be a simple lad but how on earth can we be in the situation of having “…….complex contracts that meant it was cheaper to build both carriers than one ” [The Times Oct 19]. Setting aside the ridicule of having an aircraft carrier sailing the world for six years with a few helicopters but no jets, I would like to know
1) how on earth does two of something cost more than one?
2) if this is true, why doesn’t someone immediately send one of the carriers to be broken up in India? Let’s at least avoid the running costs
3) who’s going to get sacked or prosecuted for this?
If the facts presented are true (and no doubt there is a lot more behind the scenes) why has no one in the procurement process resigned over this, and if it is a case of political interference why bother upgrading the skills of the MoD commercial staff. Better to save the higher salaries and use them as a down payment for a few more JSFs…..

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