06 January 2006 | Anusha Bradley
The Office of Government Commerce has nearly doubled its spend on consultants in the past year in order to help local and central government departments become leaner.
And more than a quarter of its efficiency team's budget is spent paying consultants and interim managers responsible for driving efficiency and achieving procurement savings.
The OGC's response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Times
newspaper revealed it almost doubled spend on consultants, interims and fixed-term contractors, from £5.8 million in 2003-04 to
£9.2 million in the 2004-05 financial year. This represents more than a fifth of its annual £43 million budget.
An OGC spokesman told SM
the rise was in line with the extra work needed to help local and central government meet Gershon efficiency review targets.
He said: "We need consultants to help us implement this [efficiency] review. But they are only short term."
He added that some consultants' fees were paid by the government departments themselves and are not included in these figures.
The OGC's efficiency team, led by David Rossington, has spent
£4 million in the past two years on the implementation of the efficiency programme.
According to figures released to SM
, the efficiency team spent £1.2 million in that period on consultants and interims. More than £1 million was spent on interim managers and £187,556 on consultants.
Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, said in his pre-budget report in December that £4.7 billion of the overall £21.5 billion efficiency savings identified by Sir Peter Gershon's review had been achieved.
Brown also announced that the OGC had achieved its procurement savings target a year early. In 2003, the OGC was given the task of making £3 billion of "value for money" gains by 2006. The target is separate from the Gershon review and includes savings the OGC assisted central government departments in making, and cost avoidance brought about as a result of its gateway reviews.