25 July 2008 | Rebecca Ellinor
London Mayor Boris Johnson may form a shared service centre for back-office functions across a range of the capital's agencies. The proposal follows a review into the spending of the regime under former mayor Ken Livingstone.
The 'Forensic Audit Panel' investigated financial management and controls at the London Development Agency (LDA) and the Greater London Authority (GLA). It called the LDA "fat and siloed" and "the mayor's chequebook".
It highlighted the uncompetitive letting of some contracts, and found the LDA's purchasing team was comprised mainly of interim managers in the later part of 2006-07 and protocols "were less robust than the current position".
It called for action to improve internal LDA systems and cut duplication across the GLA group, recommending potential efficiency savings of £7.7 million (10 to 15 per cent of the budget).
The group includes LDA, Transport for London, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, London Skills and Employment Board, Museum of London and Metropolitan Police Authority.
While some procurement is already carried out jointly, the panel supports more buying done in this way and also examined the possible merger of payroll and IT systems.
The panel suggested: "There is scope for savings within the other support service functions currently delivered in house - HR, legal and procurement services, IT and research/statistical groups with one option being outsourcing."
Johnson, who is studying the report, said he intends to shave 15 per cent from the GLA budget and is determined to make changes.