15 March 2007
The government has accepted that almost three-quarters of its claimed £13.3 billion efficiency savings are subject to "measurement issues" or "may be substantially incorrect".
John Oughton, outgoing chief executive of the OGC, told the Committee of Public Accounts last month that some inaccuracies in £9.8 billion of the savings may have been caused by more than one department counting the same gains.
Addressing concerns raised by the National Audit Office report The Efficiency Programme: A Second Review of Progress, Oughton told the committee that despite these inaccuracies, it was clear that "good efficiency" had been delivered since the first review last February.
He said the measurement system was "more robust" than a year ago, which was why the figures were no longer treated as provisional. He also announced the department would soon publish departmental breakdowns to show efficiency savings, headcount reductions and relocations in response to the report's call for more transparency.
The committee attacked the flexible baselines for departments, saying a fixed review period would give a true assessment of savings. In response, Oughton said flexibility allowed departments to include ongoing efficiency gains.